Well, hardly have she and Belisaire finished sweeping out their new office before they're embroiled in the case of a missing Russian heiress. A trail of clues leads them to an exclusive clinic, which, rumour has it, has provided some of its patients with a near-miraculous rejuvenation treatment. A treatment, one should add, pioneered by an enigmatic scientist who has recently died in mysterious circumstances. The question is, what does all of that have to do with their vanishing Russian?
Director Pascal Thomas takes an extremely leisurely approach to the mystery, with frequent breaks from sleuthing as the couple rattle out witty repartee (a lot of it – the script must have been thicker than a phone book) and struggle with the sorts of issues that dog most people their age (for two-thirds of the film they're lumbered with their son-in-law and grandkids, who have been dumped on them by their flighty daughter). To be fair, this is probably wise, since, as it stands, the plot is a little underdeveloped, almost to the point of seeming child-like. That said, several genuinely sinister moments occur (helped enormously by a wonderfully ominous score by Reinhardt Wagner), and the use of science fiction tropes (the rejuvenation is achieved by means of a strange metal egg) is unexpected and fun.
It's also very nice to see two mature actors in the lead roles, and Dussollier (whom viewers may remember from the classic Un Coeur en Hiver) in particular twinkles with silvery charm throughout. And visually, the film is a total treat. As the Beresfords investigate, they go tootling along in a lovely vintage sports car through some utterly stunning Swiss scenery. The clinic is stylishly cool and futuristic, and Catherine Bouchard's bright, retro costumes lend the movie a breezy, comic opera vibe.
If only Thomas had dialled down the whimsy a smidgeon and amped up the thrills and spills, Partners in Crime could have been even more entertaining. (Watching it, I found myself wistfully imagining a big budget Hollywood remake with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep starring and with beefed-up gadgetry and all-guns-blazing action sequences. Or should I have kept that to myself?) But even as it is, it should appeal strongly to people with a soft spot for “cosy” detective fiction and the fluffier crime shows such as Rosemary & Thyme.