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Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery (DVD)

Still Life is a Canadian production that stars Nathaniel Parker.  It's an adaptation of the book by the same title by Louise Penny that is the first in Three Pines Mystery series.  I reviewed the book almost five years ago on this book, click here to read that review.

When a beloved, retired teacher is shot through the heart by an arrow and left for dead in the woods near her home in tiny Three Pines, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is dispatched to the scene to determine if the incident was an accident or a homicide.  He is accompanied by his crack team that includes his second in command, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Agent Yvette Nichol, a less experienced law enforcement agent.  This tiny, idyllic Quebecois village that has become a haven for artistic types won't be same when Gamache's investigation concludes.

The investigation is initially hampered by the victim's next of kin, a real piece of work, who refuses to allow the police to search the victim's house.  In addition an arrogant, incompetent junior agent (Nichol.  I still loathe you.) and a false confession and subsequent arrest that precipitates Gamache's suspension also threaten to derail the pursuit of the truth and justice.  Several questions emerge throughout the investigation.  Was it an accident or homicide?  If it was homicide, who murdered Madame Neal?  And most importantly why?  Ultimately the real murderer, apprehended following a terrifying ordeal, is revealed to be a twisted, villainous caricature.

My thoughts

In this adaptation the villain's reveal is poorly managed and poorly and cheesily acted; for example, the actor's take on the stereotypical, maniacal villain's laugh is cringe inducing and unnecessary.

At several points throughout this piece I wondered what the hell happened to the victim's dog.  Her niece refuses to allow the police into her aunt's house, so who went and got the dog the victim left at home when she went for a walk in the woods?  And while one character mentions that Neal never would have left her dog at home as she did, no one ever mentions what happened to the dog.

There is something off about Peter Morrow, but it's never really addressed by the adaptation.

Nichol.  I hated her in the book, and I hated her in the adaptation.  The adaptation tries to imply that her arrogance and incompetence are symptoms of social awkwardness, but the woman won't acknowledge that she's wrong--ever.  She never owns up to her mistakes.  And her incompetence and dishonesty and its impact on the investigation are not adequately addressed.

The conclusion, I think, leaves out quite a bit of background as to why and how the murderer is so twisted.  Though his motive for the second murder is explained, his motive for the first murder that eventually comes to light and as it turns out precipitates the second murder is never explained.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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