Jean-Paul Salome’s ‘Playing Dead’ Offers a Comedic Take on Solving Crime

Gabriella Tutino


In Playing Dead, Jean Renault is a recent unemployed actor—he has a reputation for being high maintenance and unpleasant to work with on set. After meeting with his agent, he is given the opportunity to re-enact murders for law enforcement. And so, Jean finds himself in Megeve, in the Alps, playing dead for the murders of the Beauchatel brothers.


Upon arrival, the protagonist spends some time getting acquainted with the town and story of the murder. But during the re-enactments, the details seem iffy to Jean. When he tries to point out that the scenario could be different, he butts heads with the magistrate Noemie, who dislikes actors being a part of crime scenes. However, Jean’s attention to detail impresses the magistrate, and soon they put their differences aside to start working together to solve the case.


This is the premise for Playing Dead, a French whodunit comedy directed by Jean-Paul Salome. While still suspenseful in its unraveling of the murder, Playing Dead offers a fresh perspective to solving a murder. This mainly comes from the fact that the crime scene re-enactment features a meticulous, but sometimes bumbling and clueless actor.


While Jean is self-centered, he’s also driven and wants to prove that he’s worth his salt. His dedication to his craft transfers into dedication to solving the mystery. He is successful at uncovering clues because he is detail-oriented and willing to push buttons; ironic, since those same exact traits were what got him fired.



As with most murder mysteries, there are two stories at play: the one with the detectives, and the one of the murderer. The case of the Beauchatel brothers is a complex, twisted tale of love and betrayal. But Renault’s own story balances this out with his successful love story.


Playing Dead is a successful, subtle comedy—while the laughs are due mostly to the premise and a few muted jokes, it stills ends on a feel-good note. The film itself does not make light of murder, but rather of Renault’s incredulous situation. Overall, it is a unique, unexpected film.


Author Bio:

Gabriella Tutino is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.

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