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Le Grand Alibi (English title: The Great Alibi) is a 2008 French mystery film directed by Pascal Bonitzer. The screenplay is based on the Hercule Poirot crime novel The Hollow, written by Agatha Christie, although Poirot doesn't appear in this film version. The film was directed by Pascal Bonitzer and produced by Saïd Ben Saïd. The script was adapted by Pascal Bonitzer and Jérôme Beaujour.


Comparison with original book[]

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

  • Most of the main characters from the original novel have parallels in the adaptation. The character of David Angkatell is dropped but there is an additional character, Chloé, niece of the Pages (Henry and Lucy Angkatell). Chloé can be considered a kind of parallel to David. She is generally negative and anti-establishment, but like David, only plays a small role in the plot.
  • Lea, the Veronica Cray parallel is not living on a neighbouring cottage. The Pages actually invited her for dinner and she stays in the guest house on the same property. Like in the orginal, Pierre (the John Christow parallel) still thinks about her. He records some thoughts about her in a note book. He is also having an affair with Esther (the Henrietta parallel).
  • Like in the original, Esther is first on the scene when Pierre is shot. However here he does not call out her name. Somehow she knows what she is to do and takes the revolver from Claire (Gerda) and drops it into the swimming pool.
  • There is no Hercule Poirot parallel--the investigations are taken up by Inspector Grange and his men.
  • The rest of the family play a much smaller role in misdirecting the police and protecting Claire. Esther finds a pistol in the hedge and hides it in a statue. But the others don't do very much. There is no plot element of Éliane (Lucy Angkatell) carrying a gun in her basket. Owen the butler (Gudgeon) is not interviewed on screen at all.
  • The main premise in the adaptation, like in the book, is the use of two weapons. The revolver in the pool, a Smith and Wesson .38 proves to be the wrong weapon as Pierre is killed by a 9 mm bullet. Claire is released from custody based on this evidence.
  • Some scenes in the book also have parallels. Eliane comments for example that the scene where she found Pierre lying dead with Esther and Claire over him appears acted, something which Poirot observed in the original--like it was a staged scene.
  • Various other characters are built up as credible suspects. Henri, for example, believes in carrying a pistol everywhere he goes. Philippe Léger is built up as a more plausible suspect than in the original. He has blackout spells where he cannot remember what he did. He does, for example, recall later to Henri that he was passing the hedge (where Esther finds the 9 mm pistol) on the way to the swimming pool.
  • Unique to this adaptation, Lea Mantovani is also killed. Philippe is shown visiting her in her hotel room in Paris. He is attracted to her. He gives her a book he has authored. On the title page he has written a dedication to her. Later he cannot remember what he did in her room. The police find Lea murdered. They also find the book and begin looking for Philippe as the prime suspect.
  • Philippe tries to kill himself, just like in the original with Edward. however this is for different reasons. Here Philippe thought he was the one who killed Lea but just couldn't remember it. He tries to kill himself by drugging himself and putting his face into the water of the swimming pool. Like in the original, he is saved by Marthe (Midge) who applies CPR.
  • Philippe later comes to believe that Esther did it--she was after all, in love with Pierre who is in love with Lea.
  • In this adaptation the police do not find the real murder weapon, a Colt 9 mm. Like in the original, Esther hides it in a statue but it is not that of a horse. It is meant to represent Claire. The denouement takes place, like in the original, between Esther and Claire, this time in Esther's studio in an attic in Paris. Philippe had come earlier and escapes through the skylight. From above, he overhears what Claire says. After confessing to the murders, Claire takes the statue, which drops, revealing only now, the hidden gun. She takes it and threatens Esther. Philippe shouts at her to desist. Claire shoots him in the head and he collapses, apparently dead or unconscious. Esther escapes through the skylight and Claire pursues her along the Parisien rooftops. Esther slips and almost falls off the roof, clinging desparately to a TV antenna wire. Claire is about to push her off but Philippe wakes up and comes to the rescue. Claire slips and falls to her death.
  • Philippe explains to Marthe (Midge) how Claire's scheme worked--her "grand alibi" is her belief that everyone thought she was too stupid to think of the two gun deception.
  • Like in the original, Esther does visit the late Pierre's patient Geneviève Herbin (Mrs Crabtree). But she doesn't make a statue to remember Pierre with. The visit doesn't take place at the end but slightly earlier in the plot.


(parallels in brackets)

  • Miou-Miou as Éliane Pages (Lucy Angkatell)
  • Lambert Wilson as Pierre Collier (John Christow)
  • Valeria Bruni Tedeschi as Esther Bachmann (Henrietta Savanake)
  • Pierre Arditi as Le sénateur Henri Pages (Henry Angkatell)
  • Anne Consigny ask Claire Collier (Gerda Christow)
  • Mathieu Demy as Philippe Léger (Edward Angkatell)
  • Caterina Murino as Léa Mantovani (Veronica Cray)
  • Maurice Bénichou as Lieutenant Grange
  • Céline Sallette as Marthe
  • Agathe Bonitzer as Chloé
  • Dany Brillant as Michel - le chauffeur et factotum de Léa
  • Emmanuelle Riva as Geneviève Herbin (a patient - Mrs Crabtree?)
  • Nicolas Koretzky as Bertrand
  • Jim Adhi Limas (as Jim-Adhi Limas) as Owen (Gudgeon)
  • Alain Libolt as Le contrôleur
  • François Regnault as Le Procureur
  • Lyliane Facelina as Lisette
  • Hélène Devynck as television journalist
  • Peggy Martineau as Elsa (Elsie Patterson)
  • Jonathan Sarazin as Jean (Terence Christow)
  • Roxanne Allouche-Natta as Nora
  • Hélène Frappat as press journalist
  • Amandine Maudet as Louise (a nurse?)
  • Alexia Quintin as nurse no. 1
  • Fatton Dagnogo as nurse no. 2
  • Stéphane Jourdier as young inspector
  • Stéphanie Brongniart as receptionist at Lea's Paris hotel
  • Franciana Fety-Costa as hotel chambermaid (as Franciana Fety)


Tropes and Themes[]

Filming Locations[]

  • Château de Villiers-le-Bâcle, Essonne - chateau and swimming pool
  • Hôtel-Dieu, Paris - hospital where Pierre works
  • Château de Dampierre, Dampierre, Yvelines
  • Dampierre-en-Yvelines, Yvelines - village scene
  • Boulevard Rochechouart, Paris 9 - Esther's apartment external
  • 20 Rue Clauzel, Paris 9 - final rooftop scene

Vehicles and other props[]


Promotional Videos[]

See Also[]