Veteran documentarian Raymond Depardon was given special permission to film inside a Parisian courtroom for this absorbing cinema verité record of French justice in action. The filmmaker concentrates on a dozen cases, which include drink driving, domestic harassment, drug-dealing, illegal immigration and assault. All of which are heard by the formidable female judge Michèle Bernard-Raquin...
There are just a handful of camera set-ups: one at eye-level for the adjudicator, another at a lower angle for the defendants. Yet this minimalist approach pays real dividends, allowing viewers to focus on the testimonies of the participants, many of whom exist on society's margins. Depardon brings out the theatricals of the legal proceedings, with emphasis on speeches, roles and the difficulties in arriving at definitive verdicts of guilt or innocence. Riveting.