Great sense of place - not as grim as it would like to be
This is a good Paris film which successfully inserts the viewer into the life of a ageing Parisian lothario and private dick, because let's face it, we've all known one.
Thierry Lhermitte, more a bland celebrity than an actor, although the French would consider him a comedian, despite evidence to the contrary in, say, Le Placard, is captivating as the detective.
The plot is pretty complicated, especially if you are following it in French without subtitles, and serves exclusively to move Lhermitte around and give us a glimpse of his creased, aloof character in a variety of locations including local colour (Paris buses on the outskirts of the city, a suburban street) and exotica (a swingers club, prompting a great gag).
What is pleasing about the film is it is utterly unafraid to trot through the entire canon of private eye cliches without flinching and without becoming laughable. Lhermitte is divorced, lives in a crummy, poorly-lit flat and lives on canned food, principally beer, but remains thin. His wife is remarried, to a balding ex-friend who is good at sex. He is attractive to much younger women, naturally, and has a strong but uneven moral stance regarding others. He has clearly seen Chinatown so manages to acquire injuries requiring unsightly bandages early on. He has an unquestionably loyal older sidekick with an irritating dog! His car is rubbish! Nobody in the film opens their curtains at home or puts on moer than one 20w lamp, despite risking injury from collision with the heavy bits of furniture the French like so much.
Lhermitte, and everyone in the film chainsmokes, save the dog, probably because it is illegal to make dogs smoke. Every his apartment appears there are more and more cartons of cigarettes on every surface, even in the fridge.
This is a very enjoyable shaggy dog story, which like all s.d.s. is heavy on atmosphere and light on delivery.
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