Monsieur Spade: Clive Owen Shines in Provocative and Intriguing French Crime Drama

PARIS, FRANCE – Mickey Mouse recently entered the public domain, resulting in a flurry of memes and even a planned slasher film featuring the beloved character. However, for a more pastoral take on fan fiction, look no further than the upcoming limited series “Monsieur Spade”. Created by Scott Frank (“The Queen’s Gambit”) and Tom Fontana (“Oz”), the series takes the iconic character Sam Spade, made famous in Dashiell Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon”, and places him in a retired life in the South of France.

The six-episode series, set to premiere on AMC, AMC+, and Acorn TV, explores what happens when a retired and irritable character is thrust into the midst of escalating crime and unrest. Clive Owen shines in the leading role, portraying Spade as a yet-to-be-domesticated alley cat navigating a case involving a mysterious Algerian boy and a horrifying massacre at a nearby convent.

While “Monsieur Spade” may not deeply resonate with viewers unfamiliar with the character’s previous incarnations, Owen’s performance and the beautiful French backdrop offer enough intrigue to captivate audiences. The series weaves smaller mysteries into the narrative, but at times, it may be unclear why the creators chose to reimagine Spade and if their approach is consistently compelling.

Owen’s portrayal of Spade is far from a Humphrey Bogart imitation. Instead, he brings a mid-Atlantic accent and a balanced mix of throwback machismo and vulnerability to the role. As the character faces adversaries who are younger and tougher, Owen effectively conveys Spade’s realization that smug superiority doesn’t always prevail.

The series thrives on Owen’s verbal sparring with the ensemble cast, particularly Denis Ménochet as the local chief of police. The crackling dialogue and the chemistry between the actors, whether discussing murder or condiments for an omelet, make for satisfying viewing. However, the show could benefit from further developing the character of Teresa, played by Cara Bossom, and allowing her to have a stronger presence.

With stunning scenery and Owen’s standout performance, “Monsieur Spade” injects new life into the iconic character. While the series may not always bring all its storylines together, it offers enough entertainment to draw in audiences looking for a different twist on a classic detective.