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This gritty police drama shows us the underbelly of the Parisian drug trade. Lulu is a tough streetwise narcotics cop who, like a Frank Serpico or a Dirty Harry Callahan, doesn't play by the rules or kowtow to his weak and/or corrupt superiors. Lulu thrives in this violent world, where sheer guts can overcome his squad's deficiencies of money and equipment. Despite the ruthless environment that he lives and works in every day, he still manages somehow to maintain his humanity. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Tavernier's examination of the Paris police's losing battle against the drug-dealers was reportedly inspired by the experience of his son's addiction. It is an angry, despairing film. Early on the central character says that "all drug-dealers are terrorists" and later the police chief says that "my son is 13. He will have already met his first dealer".
This is a documentary-style examination from the front-line, where the police are demoralised, under-resourced, corrupt and incompetent. The 'hero', Lulu, (an outstanding performance by Didier Bezace) is a maverick detective who gets transferred to desk duties when he is angered by his drunken boss demanding the return of the unit's van in the middle of a stakeout - so he can go home! After struggling with the police station's incompetent bureaucracy, Lulu is placed in a new anti-drugs unit, led by practical joker Dodo, concerned only with filling in forms and meeting the Ministry's statistical targets.
The whole film rings true, right down to the tedious form-filling using old typewriters and stolen carbon-paper. There is no real plot, as the unit stumbles from disaster to disaster, but rather a series of incidents punctuated by much eating and drinking. As if to contrast with the chaos of the police unit, the film is shot calmly and lucidly by Tavernier. By the end of the film you have become involved with the characters and want to know more about their bleak futures. A wonderful film, and as good a portrait of policing (at its worst) as you will see.
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