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In the underbelly of the Parisian criminal world, the Police are frustrated by a gang committing a series of violent robberies. Leo Vrinks and Denis Klein are two cops seeking promotion, and the imminent departure of the Chief sets the scene for them to compete for the vacant throne. The competition between them becomes increasingly ruthless and blurs the usual lines of morality, until there seems no difference between the police and the criminals they chase. Vrinks, meeting with a source, becomes involved with a murder. Klein seizes the opportunity to up the ante and arranges for the arrest of Vrinks, but when he goes further and viciously involves Vrinks' wife, Camille, revenge is inevitable. Written by
What a good surprise this movie has been ! I just had to let you know about it as soon as possible
As it might not rings any bell in foreigners' head, know that the Quai Des Orfèvres is the familiar name for the Criminal Investigations Division of the Paris Police, located at no. 36. In popular parlance, "Quai des Orfèvres" means to the French what "Scotland Yard" means to the British.
Indeed we are here in a thriller, a dark one. The director, Olivier Marchal is a former cop and the story of 36 Quai Des Orfèvres is from real facts from the life of Dominique Loiseau (who co-wrote the script), former member of the BRI (Brigade de Recherche et d'Intervention = Search and Action Squad, the "anti-gangs" squad) in the mid eighties.
In this movie we follow the struggle between two cops.
On one hand we have Vrinks, BRI's head. Daniel Auteuil, who is one of the most famous actors in France, offers the audience an amazing performance playing this cop who is found of justice, whatever it costs and whatever the methods are to take down the criminals. To reach his ideal of justice he uses to flirt dangerously with the "dark side" taking risks for his family, his life and his career. Anyway it seems his priorities are still in this order. Like the Vincent Hanna of Heat, he just has two lifes he tries to separate: the one at work and the one at home where he doesn't say anything about his work to his wife (played by the beautiful Valeria Golino), just because he's afraid that might make her run away...
On the other hand we have Klein, the head of the BRB (Brigade de Répression du Banditisme = Crime Repression Squad, taking care of big robberies and so on) played by a very well known actor, in France but also around the world after a few appearance in Hollywood movies: Gérard Depardieu who seems to have reminded the amazing actor he can be. Depardieu is indeed at his top, playing this ambitious and soured character who reaches power and power only.
Tensions exist between these two men who used to be friends. They really don't share the same goals regarding their professional life but it appears quickly that the problem is mostly located on the private front. We don't know exactly what has happened but it seems that a woman, who is now Mrs Vrink, has been between the two of them, breaking for good their friendship long years ago and creating a scare which is still very sensitive today.
Their boss Robert Mancini, played by André Dussolier (the narrator's voice in Amélie, here playing perfectly again a role quite similar to the one he had in Agents Secrets), makes these tensions get worse when explaining them that he is about to be promoted. As they are both equally qualified, they are in competition for his replacement. The one who will take down a gang of very violent robbers currently holding up to ridicule the police forces, will be the new head of the number 36, Quai des Orfèvres.
And here you know just the starting plot of this movie which benefits of a really really good script. In addition to this perfect script you have a great casting for the main roles but also for the "background characters" who are for most of them unknown actors who will surely be known in a few movies if they continue to play so well and have the luck again to play in such a great film.
The rhythm of the movie is also really good and, very unexpected for this kind of production in France, risks have been taken and ... it pays. This movie really takes you in its story and it's a great journey.
Olivier Marchal is a former cop yes, but more than that he is also a great thriller movie fans. I've used a reference to Heat earlier and, according to some interviews I've read after having seen the movie, it seems that Olivier Marchal totally agrees with me on the fact Heat is one of the best thriller ever shooted if not the best. He said he wanted to something in the same spirit, all things considered and I had indeed been surprised during 36 Quai Des Orfèvres to think a few times about Michael Man's work. We are far from a Collateral or a Heat but 36 Quai Des Orfèvres doesn't have to get redden in front of these masterpieces IMHO.
Fan, honest and humble, Olivier Marchal has delivered us a very efficient and striking thriller who deserves to be classified among the best of the genre.
36 Quai Des Orfèvres is letting me hope that maybe France will be back on the thrillers front, which had been quite deserted after a golden age in the 70's with great directors like Jean-Pierre Melville.
I really hope that this movie will be released in foreign countries and that most of you will have the opportunity to see it. An opportunity that I seriously invite you to not miss
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