Inspector Lavardin Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video Lies & Deceit Boxset)

A pedophile, drugs, and weird family dynamics

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3.9

In 1986, Claude Chabrol returned to his French detective from Cop au Vin with the much more personal Inspector Lavardin, hence the titularity. Jean Poiret reprises his role as Lavardin, with a script co-written by Chabrol and Dominique Roulet (who originally penned the novel Cop au Vin was based on). Here, the film dives deeper into Lavardin as a person, focusing much more on his investigation of the murder of a prominent writer and moral crusader than the backstory behind the characters involved. Since Lavardin also has a close connection to the family suffering from the loss – he was originally seeing Hélène (Bernadette Lafont), the twice-widowed – Chabrol digs into the family life and customs of the Mons family and how it relates to Lavardin’s own mysterious past.

Like Cop au VinInspector Lavardin really takes its time with the unfolding of its murder investigation. Lavardin is slow and methodical, and much like Agatha Christie’s Poirot, his techniques are centered around conversations that elicit secrets and reactions  from his interviewees. This is all shot with beautiful cinematography and scenery, but ultimately the impact of these scenes can become monotonous over time.

Luckily, Poiret brings a uniqueness to Lavardin that makes him stand out from the rest of the cozy investigators. In fact, Inspector Lavardin doubles down on the moral ambiguity and ethics of Lavardin’s approach first seen in Cop au Vin; he’s not afraid to get dirty, break and enter, or, later in the movie, pin a murder on someone who clearly did not commit it simply because the real perpetrator had good reason for it. Inspector Lavardin deals in a murky territory of morality, in which most of the players are, in some way or another, corrupt or rich or both. Throughout its 100 minutes, the film explores the depths of depravity of each character including Lavardin, leaving the viewer unsure who to root for.

That’s ultimately where Chabrol is most successful. The plot is more complicated with red herrings this time around, its focus more grounded on Lavardin as a primary protagonist, and its ethics even more questionable. That makes it a more rounded outing from Chabrol than the fairly predictable Cop au Vin, a sequel that improves on most elements.

Blu-ray

Inspector Lavardin gets a Blu-ray release from Arrow Video as part of their Lies & Deceit boxset, which is volume 1 of their Claude Chabrol collection. As such, we will treat this as an individual release, but make note of the additional elements included in the box.

This film received a Blu-ray release back in 2014 by Cohen Media Group as part of a two-film Lavardin collection, and presumably Arrow Video is using that HD transfer for this release as well since neither Cop au Vin nor Inspector Lavardin get new transfers for this release. The quality is remarkably similar to Cop au Vin, retaining the same amount of texture detail and the somewhat muted color palette. Again, the master seems to be in fine condition considering a very limited amount of damage, and grain scale is kept to a filmic medium body. Again, occasional grain streaking is noticeable but slightly better than Cop au Vin. This is a solid transfer, and it’s understandable why Arrow Video did not opt for a new restoration.

Audio is presented with an LPCM 2.0 mono French track with optional English subtitles. This gives prominent dialogue clarity with some emphasis on the score by Matthieu Chabrol, although here it may be a little less utilized.

Extra features are mostly ported from past releases, but there are a couple new additions for this release. Like Cop au Vin, a new commentary from film critic Ben Sachs provides contextual and symbolic analysis of Chabrol’s direction. A new interview with film critic Sam Wigley provides more commentary on the overall scope of Chabrol’s filmography and its prescience. The rest of the features are archival but do add some excellent bulk to this disc.

Also included in the boxset is a booklet of essays that are well worth a read.

Extra Features

  • High definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Original lossless French PCM mono audio
  • Optional English Subtitles
  • NEW commentary by film critic Ben Sachs
  • NEW Why Chabrol?, an interview with film critic Sam Wigley about why the films of Claude Chabrol remain essential viewing (1080p; 16:07)
  • Archive introduction by film scholar Joël Magny (1080p; 2:46)
  • Select scene commentaries by Claude Chabrol (1080p; 33:58)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:14)
  • Image Gallery (chapter breaks; 0:10)

Verdict

Inspector Lavardin is the better of the two Lavardin films included on Arrow Video’s Lies & Deceit boxset, and it features a solid video transfer and a number of extras both new and old to give interested viewers hours of additional footage.

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