Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Monday, March 24, 2008

36 Quai des Orfèvres

Sometimes a movie's publicity tagline can be offputting. I'd read that 36 Quai des Orfèvres was "a French Heat" referencing Michael Mann's mid-90s De Niro/Pacino policer. I didn't care much for Heat, so this did nothing for me but fill me with trepidation. Still, I do like Daniel Auteuil and Gérard Depardieu, so I thought I'd give it a go.

It takes a while to get a grip on what's going on here. The two leads are both cops but in different departments; one is married to the ex-wife of the other; one has friends in the Parisian underworld. For the first hour, the viewer really could be a bit flummoxed.

But that's all good. We get served up enough exposition in our movies, so once in a while it's nice to be treated like an intelligent adult able to follow a choppy narrative.

This is a taut little flick. The action, like the dialogue, is fast and furious. The performances are strong, and you feel a kinship with certain of the characters, not least the hotheaded, shaven-headed, fiercely loyal Titi, who looks more like a thug than a cop.

The story ducks and weaves, wending its way through a series of characters, and you just know some of them are not going to make it to the end. But it keeps throwing up little surprises right up until the last.

I'd highly recommend 36 Quai des Orfèvres. I seem to say this often, but try to catch it before the pending US remake comes out. (Yawn.) I score this movie 75 points out of 100.

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