Monsieur Spade

Monsieur Spade
Monsieur Spade
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Mister Spade, Dashiell Hammett’s fictional private investigator and protagonist, has to come out of retirement to solve brutal killings connected with a malevolent conspiracy. Spanning six episodes, Monsieur Spade is a haunting neo-noir thriller that features a web of deceit and unexpected turns. Clive Owen’s reinvention of the iconic character is nothing short of enthralling. He may no longer be a trench coat wearing, chain-smoking, fedora clad detective but he isn’t any less tough or perceptive. He knows that events from The Maltese Falcon years ago have caught up with him and he is being made to pay for them.

Sam Spade (Owen) arrives in Bozouls France in 1955 with a scared little girl in tow. Teresa (Ella Feraud) is the daughter of Brigid O’Shaughnessy who passed away recently. She had hired Spade to bring Teresa to her father from Istanbul. Philippe Saint-André (Jonathan Zaccaï) is someone dangerous who should not be trusted according to Spade but he decides to honor Brigid’s last wish anyway. The mother of Philippe, Audrey (Caroline Silhol), gave him an icy reception when he arrived at their house. She denies knowing anything about her criminal son or where he might be.

After being stuck on the side of the road during a violent thunderstorm with nowhere to go Sam and Teresa are saved by fate when beautiful widow Gabrielle (Chiara Mastroianni) stops her Rolls-Royce after noticing their predicament. Eight years later in 1963 Sam has inherited Gabrielle’s vineyard and mansion and she has died but Teresa (Cara Bossom) still lives nearby at a convent which he continues to keep watch over her at even though she is now an unruly teenager always rebelling against the nuns that raised her.

It is the middle of the night when Teresa covered in blood shows up at Sam’s doorstep. She had been running in terror from a massacre. Something unspeakable has happened to Mother Superior (Martine Schambacher) and the nuns. Sam leaves Teresa in his living room and runs to his closet. He opens an old suitcase and pushes past his trench coat and hat until he finds his gun.

The Monsieur Spade series begins with the execution-style murder of six nuns. This gruesome act forces Sam out of retirement and back into action, where he must solve it before further damage happens. He does not have much confidence in Patrice Michaud (Denis Ménochet). The Chief of Police dislikes Sam for being an American who is arrogant and lacks respect for French customs; this feeling is shared by many men in town especially Jean-Pierre (Stanley Weber), owner of Hot Club – a swinging jazz bar – who believes that Sam desires Marguerite (Louise Bourgoin), his beautiful wife, because of his own war experiences as a soldier that left him with PTSD. There are many lies which need untangling before one can see light through them all.

Monsieur Spade features an intricate plot with numerous subplots taking place simultaneously throughout its duration making it difficult to keep up on everything happening at once but there are some key factors worth mentioning here since they will come back later: time jumps between past present future tense; flashbacks revealing more about supporting cast members’ lives prior events shown happening within episodes set apart by hours days weeks months years at times; simmering tensions among French loyalists Nazis sympathizers post WW conflict zones current geopolitical happenings world over leaving no stone unturned or story untold. Suffice to say this shows complexity cannot be overstated and background knowledge would be useful if one wants full understanding otherwise you might just get lost along the way.

Writer and director Scott Frank, the brilliant screenwriter behind Out of Sight and Logan, is a master in every sense. Monsieur Spade oozes with charming noir elements. The characters, witty dialogue, costumes, and beautiful production design are all nods to Hammett and Humphrey Bogart’s portrayal of Spade but they take him in an entirely different direction. He’s older now; he’s seen more bad things happen to good people which has only given him a healthy dose of cynicism. He knows what kind of evil lurks in the hearts of men who do wrong. His hope for quiet life with new love gets a rude awakening when trouble shows up on his doorstep like it had magnets in its shoes. But that doesn’t mean he’s scared of anything. Spade wasn’t built that way and everyone who comes up against him finds out why there are few reputations more badass than Sam Spade’s.

Owen leads this one brilliantly. Not doing a Bogart impersonation by any stretch of the imagination here either; Owen brings something very sophisticated to his interpretation of Sam which I think is key because while some hard-core fans may have seen Maltese Falcon or read Dashiell Hammett’s book about our favorite detective before (maybe even both), most folks probably haven’t so you gotta make sure those guys are happy too without losing everybody else along the way – tough work but Clive pulls it off beautifully! He really makes this character his own for modern audiences while still being true what made us fall in love with these stories back during their original run… And let me tell ya: that ain’t easy when you’re dealing with such esteemed source material!

Monsieur Spade blew my expectations right outta the water – not just met them but far exceeded what I thought possible going into watching any show ever again within this genre or subgenre … It sets new bars for noir detective mysteries everywhere now… This series never stoops down into any cheap tricks either like those other ones tend do sometimes where they rely on too much violence or sex just because people are easily entertained by that stuff. No, sirree! This one’s only meant for grown folks who know good art when they see it and aren’t afraid to admit they love it too.

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