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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
This is like the French version of Michael Mann's "Heat." Daniel
Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu are like the Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro
These heavyweight actors really do a good job in this cop drama where they play former friends and colleagues who work in different competing departments at the French police. Depardieu plays a gutless immoral cop. Auteuil is the family man who is not perfect himself but is far more moral than his former buddy.
It shows the grit of Paris that people outside France don't usually see in French movies, like the mobs, the gangs, the corruption of the urban ghettos. Instead of pretty cafes and the Eiffel Tower, we get to see alleys and project housing.
Italian actress Valeria Golino plays Auteuil's wife. Auteuil's character tries to protect her from the ugliness of his job by not telling her anything. But circumstances beyond their control later on force her to get involved. The director brilliantly puts it all together.
I know some people didn't like the ending. I thought it was fine and I was not at all disappointed. The other supporting actors like Andre Dussolier who are all famous in France also do a good job. We really liked this movie and highly recommend it!
I had the privilege of seeing this film at the Lincoln Center (NY City)
Rendezvous with French Cinema in March 2005 with the director, Olivier
Marchal, in attendance.
The film stars Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, and Valeria Golino. The two male leads play rivals for the position of Chief of Police in the same district of Paris. Depardieu's character is the heavy and the actor does a magnificent job. But so does Auteuil as the "good guy" and Golino as his wife. Marchal both wrote and directed this film, drawing on his former life as, in fact, a Paris cop and based the events in the film on some real occurrences from the 80s in Paris. There are drug dealers and corrupt cops, to be sure, but what gives this film tremendous power is the combination of the superb acting and a tough, smart script.
The current chief is in line to a promotion to commissioner and knows the personalities of the two rivals well--so well, in fact, that he engages in some devious manipulative actions to set them against each other. The resulting tension and conflict between these two is what gives the film its tremendous momentum. The plotting is perfect; this film does everything it's supposed to do, and a lot more, to grab the viewer by the throat and not let go until the end.
Upon conclusion of the film, the director was bombarded with questions. One of them was whether or not the film has American distribution. One would think that with two French mega-stars like Auteuil and Depardieu, no problem, right? Wrong. Marchal indicated that the film was picked up for distribution throughout the world EXCEPT in the US. It is my fervent hope that some American studio/distributor smartens up and then snaps up this film which is, without question, the absolute best policier in more than 20 years. The last great film in this genre from France was La Balance, directed, interestingly enough, by an American ex-pat, Bob Swaim. That was in 1982. Even Tavernier's L.627, 1992, is not a strong contender.
But 36 Quai des Orfevres is the real deal. The title refers to the street address of the district precinct station whose sign, in a nifty opening sequence, is ripped off by...well, you'll just have to see for yourself.
Very highly recommended. A great thriller--formidable! (French for terrific).
Cop turned director is a new one on me but there's always a first time I guess. One thing's sure Marchal has a lot of balls in titling his film as he has and so inviting direct comparison with the only other film to employ as its title the address of the Police headquarters in Paris, Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1947 classic called simply Quai des orfevres without the number which is superfluous. Clouzot's movie is well over 50 years old and featured a more sedate form of detection - Louis Jouvet was not exactly Monsieur Hard Man and, like the man said, the times they are a changing. Marchal, who began taking acting lessons when he was still a cop (so that's how they perfect the good cop/bad cop routine) and went on to play in several TV crime series, has based his story on a real situation, the internicine rivalry in the eighties between the BRI and the BRB, both working out of the Quai. Co-scriptwriter Dominique Loiseau was a player and this is partly his story. The film is dominated by two lions in winter, Gerard Depardieu and Daniel Auteuil recalling Duke Wayne and Bob Mitchum in El Dorado, two ageing pros if not yet over the hill certainly at the summit, so these two craggy bears, polar bears if you will, polar being the French name for gangster/caper/crime films, light up the screen no question about it as the respective heads of the BRB (Brigade de Repression du Banditisme, that's Major Heists to you and me) and BRI (Brigade de Recherche et d'Intervention (we're Gangbusters, Man). There's a history between these two, we're never QUITE told the full story which is a masterstroke, but it involves Vrink's (Auteuil) wife, who may have once been Klein's (Depardieu) girl. To sweeten the pot Mancini (Andre Dussollier) head honcho announces his retirement leaving his job up for grabs; both are equally qualified but it's an open secret that the first guy to nail a particularly violent gang will become the new chief. Auteuil is our Dirty Harry kind of cop, often worse than the villains he's after but he DOES usually get them in the end, Depardieu is a tad choosier but not TOO good to live. To say more wouldn't really add much, I found myself a little intrigued by the long, black leather coats worn by both Brigades, resembling nothing so much as the outfit of choice of the Stasi in East Germany and I HOPE this is an oblique comment on the fact that (England at least) is slowly becoming a Police state. All in all an enjoyable romp and well worth 8 stars.
A couple of days ago I saw the trailer of "36 Quai des Orfèvres" and I
decided to buy the DVD. What a powerful movie it is, probably the best
police story that I have recently seen. The dramatic and amoral story
is a contemporary film-noir, with action, betrayal, shootings and hooks
the attention from the beginning to the end. There is a great duel
between two titans: Gérard Depardieu, in the role of a scum detective,
and Daniel Auteuil, playing a detective with non-conventional
procedures, and they both deserved nomination to the Oscar for such
brilliant performances. The music score, with the song "Don't Bring me
Down", is also wonderful. The grandiosity of "36 Quai des Orfèvres"
recalled me 1995 "Heat", one of the best police stories of the 90's. I
really do not understand why there are negative reviews for such great
film. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "36"
36 Quai Des Orfevres is a gutsy police drama, filmed with flair, the dark side of both police and criminals realistically portrayed. For me the best aspect of the picture is bringing together again those two giants of the French screen, Depardieu and Auteuil, remembered for their roles in the wonderful Jean De Florette, which was a period piece, now they are in a rather frightening present day Paris. The fairly complex plot involves the rivalry between two leading policemen, both vying to gain promotion by bringing to justice a feared gang of psychopaths. In keeping with the dark feeling of the story Paris has never looked so gritty and bleak as seen here. Once again the French demonstrate their skill in the crime genre picture of which this is a fine example, thanks to these two brilliant actors, with the fine supporting cast, and earthy rugged direction. Based on real events, with muddy politics of the French Police Force, lies, betrayals, and violent shootouts, it will keep you guessing until it reaches its unexpected climax.
The opening in 36 has got to be one of the more arresting (pun not
intended) starters in a movie I've watched in some time, especially if
you're a fan of Euro-electronica, where a catchy tune paces the
multiple action happening on screen.
The French police is stumped by a gang of armed robbers whose fast and brutal methods leave no witnesses. Of course the politicians are angry and want immediate results in the capture of these criminals. The stakes are raised when a vacant seat in higher office is opened to the officer who manages to do so.
Leo Vrinks is a decorated cop with questionable methods. Toeing the line that separates cops from thugs, his team of officers and himself are tasked to bring these criminals to justice. His rival, Denis Klein, also a celebrated cop, wants the case for himself, but unceremoniously gets his team and himself relegated to a support role in the sting operation.
Naturally, unexpected things happen during the operation because of Denis' callous behaviour, and lives on both sides are lost. But no, the show doesn't end there when the thugs are captured, as the rivalry between the men spill over and provides more than sufficient fuel for the second half of the movie.
I guess it's the same at most offices, where promotion's at stake, the struggles and intense rivalry may get into the way of the greater good in getting the objective achieved. Methods are questioned, where morality and ethics are put into the spotlight - does the end really justify any means necessary? Like memorable HK police thriller Infernal Affairs, it is the powerful relationship between the main characters that this drama explores and excels in, with excellent acting from Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu as the bitter men with ambiguous methods and morales.
It's a relatively tight storyline, and you'll have to pay close attention to the subplots in order to be able to piece together how and why the ending was as presented. Highly recommended stuff.
This is an utterly brilliant movie. I highly recommend it. And that's
coming from someone who usually *hates* cop movies. I get really easily
bored of the typical over done American hero cop drama.
This a movie of substance, with symbolism, depth and a lot of action without becoming a movie that depends on action scenes to keep it going. And it doesn't end with a fluffy fairy tale ending the way most cop drama tripe does.
The actors are brilliant, which makes up for the times when there is slight confusion because there are so many characters to follow, its cinema that hasn't been dumbed down for an American audience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First the good news, the first hour of this film is an enjoyable, if derivative, cops and robbers show while Depardieu and Auteuil do as much as they can to keep things afloat throughout. The second hour, sadly, is just a melodramatic soup which you will enjoy in direct relation to how readily you swallow the soap opera-style plot contrivances, which are rammed in without regard for logic, or the intelligence of the audience, in order to get Auteuil's character jailed and his wife slain. For example, can a senior policeman ( The "good" cop, highly regarded by his superiors and the hero of the moment for having just jailed a violent gang that had been terrorising Paris for two years) really be convicted solely on the uncorroborated eye-witness evidence of junkie hooker? That's what we are led to believe here, even though we see the crime in question and know there is absolutely no way she could have seen the cop's face when she was cowering on the floor of the car until they had driven off (Strange, however, that an apparent manslaughter, committed by the much less regarded "bad" cop later on, is rigorously covered up by these very same superiors, in order to give him the job that they had specifically wished to deny him in preference to the "good" cop!). Now let's observe the behaviour of the killer. He has compromised the "good" cop in order to provide an alibi for the murders, but the "good" cop is caught and blows his cover. He is on the run and desperate, so what does he do? - he rings up the cop's wife in order to give her a large sum of money, apparently as "compensation" for her husband being jailed - well he would, wouldn't he?! The wife, naturally, jumps at the chance, not only to put herself in mortal peril but to diminish her prospects of survival even more by allowing the ham-fisted "bad" cop, still harbouring a grudge for being dumped by her in the past, to set her up for the meeting - all in all, not the wisest of moves. Perhaps it's best not to think too much to enjoy this film but, even so, the second half drags badly and may have you falling asleep long before the end - just as well then that the director thoughtfully adds a flashback to explain the final "twist" that you could only have been unconscious not to have worked out well beforehand.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gerard Depardieu gives a great performance in a film that, for my
money, is more than a little over-rated. There's a decent story here
and, in the right hands, I think it could have made a riveting film,
but for some reason it simply fails to engage. Perhaps it's because too
much is left unexplained. It's clear that Depardieu and Auteuil's
characters were once friends but are now no more, and it is obliquely
hinted at that Auteuil's wife is the reason, but that is all. So the
reason for Depardieu being the gruff dislikeable bear with a drink
problem is a mystery that makes it impossible to get under the skin of
Too often the reasons for a character's behaviour are too sketchy, and the repercussions of those actions unrealistic. When Depardieu inadvertently causes the death of a colleague he is not reprimanded because the evidence of Auteuil is compromised by his own internal affairs hearing. And yet Depardieu's faux-pas is fuelled by a half-bottle of scotch he sinks in his car immediately before acting. Considering the degree of enmity felt for him by half the cops there I can't help thinking this would surely have been picked up on by his superiors. Things like this, occurring in films that are supposed to be grounded in reality, spoil a film for me and diminish the good work from the principal members of the cast.
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