Le Crime est notre affaire (Crime is Our Business) is a 2008 French comedy mystery film directed by Pascal Thomas and starring Catherine Frot, André Dussollier and Claude Rich. The credits state that it is based on Christie's Partners in Crime, meaning that the lead characters Prudence and Bélisaire Beresford are inspired by Tommy and Tuppence. However the storyline is a fairly faithful adaptation of Christie's novel 4.50 from Paddington.
While travelling by rail, an old lady Babette Boutiti witnesses a murder on the train next to hers. Nobody believes her and there is no sign of a body. Fortunately, Babette's niece, Prudence Beresford, is bored of a life in retirement and she drags her husband off to try to solve the case.
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
Babette Boutiti boards a train at Matigny, Switzerland, and heads for France to visit her niece, Prudence Beresford. En route, her train is overtaken by another one and she sees a man strangling a women. It's only a fleeting view but she notes that she is wearing red gloves. She reports this to the conductor who is sceptical but nonetheless agrees to make a report.
Prudence, on the other hand, is far more interested. She is bored with following her husband, Bélisaire, former head of the secret service, into retirement. Babette's case is just the adventure she wants. Retracing the route of the train, she discovers a creepy gothic chateau, "La vallée des loups". At a nearby village, she offers a lift to a girl who turns out to be the kitchen maid of the chateau. She is dissatisfied with her job there and wants to quit. Prudence seizes the opportunity and gets herself employed as the replacement.
Prudence meets a young girl Alexis who fills her in on the chateau residents who make up a dysfunctional family who hate one another. Her grandfather Roderick is a miserly invalid, looked after by her aunt Emma and Dr Lagard. The rest visit the place at Christmas: Raphaël the banker who is only interested in money and drugs, Augustin the artist who gave up sculpture and prefers hunting and her father Frédéric, a layabout who at least plays the guitar well.
While exploring the grounds by the railway track, Prudence finds a red glove. Alexis and Valerie then show Prudence "the museum", a vast separate building where Roderick keeps his collection of antiques. She goes back at night and discovers the body of a woman inside a sarcophagus. She is wearing a red glove. There is a music box on the floor next to the sarcophagus.
Inspector Blache arrives. Prudence claims to be a widow but he recognises the name Beresford and consults Bélisaire and ropes him into the investigation. The round of interviews reveals a highly dysfunctional family caused in part by the will of Roderick's father which skipped over him like in the original novel. They hate one another. Roderick says the younger ones are all waiting for him to die to get their share of the fortune.
Blache recognises the Beresford name and tells Bélisaire about what his wife is doing and draws him into the investigation. Prudence suggests looking among dancers--the corpse had dancer's feet. Bélisaire learns the Margaret Brown's troupe had a dancer Anna Stravinska who left a few weeks earlier because she wanted to find her husband. Meanwhile Emma tells the police that her late brother Edmond had a wife "Martina" and she had written saying she wanted to come to the chateau as she needed money for her son.
The family members fall ill after the Christmas eve dinner. Most recover quickly but the next day, Prudence discovers that Augustine is dead. Mrs Valois, Valerie's mother comes to collect her daughter and shocks Prudence with her revelation. Valerie had told her that they had found a body in a sarcophagus and everyone thought dead woman must be Martina. Mrs Valois tells Prudence that is not possible because she is herself Martina. Shortly thereafter, Raphaël returns home and receives a small parcel of pills, ostensibly from Lagarde. He takes them and dies.
With some many suspects out of the way and the Martina line of inquiry closed, Prudence and Bélisaire realise the killer must be someone who has an interest in the Charpentier fortune but not in a direct way. Prudence has an idea and summons her aunt back from the Amazon for a denouement which takes place much as in the novel and in the Joan Hickson adaptation. Lagarde is arrested. Anna Stravinska was his wife. She refused to divorce him because she was a devout catholic. Unlike the original novel, the remaining family members are still as dysfunctional as ever at the end of the events.
Prudence and Bélisaire return home but are deterred from entering the house when they hear loud noises inside. Their daughter has come to visit and their two grandchilden can make as much noise as ten. They go camping instead. They tent under the stars and there follows a reprise of the famous Sherlock Holmes/Dr Watson joke.
Comparison with original novel
(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)
- Miss Marple assisted by Lucy Eyelesbarrow is replaced by Prudence and Bélisaire Beresford, characters inspired by Tommy and Tuppence. Prudence herself goes undercover as the kitchen maid of the Charpentiers, but otherwise the adaptation is fairly faithful to the original novel.
- The Charpentier (Crackenthorpe) family tree is slightly adjusted. There are only 4 sons (Alfred is not depicted) and only 1 daughter. Edith is replaced by Frédéric who is the father of Alexie (feminine version of Alexander). There is still the unusual will and the family gathers for Christmas.
- Roderick (Luther) also collects antiques and artefacts which he keeps in a "museum". He is an invalid treated by Dr Lagarde.
- The investigators in this case are Prudence, inspecteur Blache who draws and defers to Bélisaire because he was a senior figure in the Secret Service.
- Augustin, who is actually the Cedric parallel, dies from poisoning after the Christmas eve dinner. This is the way Alfred died in the original.
- Raphaël dies after receiving a parcel of pills just like Harold in the original.
- The Martina (Martine) and Anna Stravinska sideplots are depicted faithfully. The same plot element of Anna sending a postcard to one of her fellow dancers is used, in this case a postcard from Saint Barthelemy.
- The denouement takes place in the same manner as in the book. However Prudence uses a music box shaped like a grand piano to show the doctor's relationship to Anna Stravinska. How this proves the relationship is not explained. She had earlier found the music box on the floor near the sarcophagus.
- Catherine Frot as Prudence Beresford
- André Dussollier as Bélisaire Beresford
- Claude Rich as Roderick Charpentier
- Annie Cordy as Babette Boutiti
- Chiara Mastroianni as Emma Charpentier
- Melvil Poupaud as Frédéric Charpentier
- Alexandre Lafaurie as Raphaël Charpentier
- Christian Vadim as Augustin Charpentier
- Hippolyte Girardot as Dr. Francois Lagarde
- Yves Afonso as inspecteur Blache
- Valériane de Villeneuve as Madame Clairin (as Valérianne de Villeneuve)
- Marie Lorna Vaconsin as Madame Valois (as Marie Lorna)
- Laura Benson as Margaret Brown
- Florence Maury as Diane Charpentier
- Agathe Hazard as servant who resigned
- Mariame N'Diaye as assistant of inspecteur Blache
- Pierre Durrieux as bistro customer (as Pierre Durrieux)
- Lina Bibollet as bistro proprietor
- Georges Chappuis as Beresford gardener (see Georges)
- Daniel Isoppo as gardener
- Alexie Ribes as Alexie Charpentier
- Kym Thiriot as Valérie Valois
- Benjamin Guillard as the train conductor
- Anne Arovas as L'employée de maison
- Audrey Hamm as dancer (see Huguette)
- Ornella Bess as dancer (as Ornella Bes)
- Héloïse Wagner as dancer
- Marianne Ollier as dancer
- Barbara Jaquandello as murdered young woman (as Barbara Jaquaniello)
- Catherine Martin as the choreographer
- Edmond Charpentier
- Château de Beaurevoir, Isère - externals of the Le vallee des loupes chateau building
- Château de Pupetières, Isère - also Le vallee des loupes, not clear where, possibly grounds and interiors
- Chamonix train station - Prudence sends Bélisaire off to Glasgow
- Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Haute-Savoie - dream sequence, railway scene
- Saint Nicolas la Chapelle, Savoie
- Prudence parks outside the mairie
- Her bistro appears to be in the Chalet l'eau vive
- Église Saint Nicolas - Emma meets Bélisaire there
- La Belle Metairie restaurant, Crest-Voland - Prudence and Bélisaire have lunch there
- Château de Chatillon, Chindrieux - Prudence and Bélisaire's residence
- Château de la Serraz - location not identified
- shores of lac du Bourget
- Castello Vallaise, Arnad, Italy - the museum