Reviews

36, Quai Des Orfevres

4

With two iconic leads in a dirty underworld shot with grubby style and an elegiac score, you have to wonder: is cop-turned-filmmaker Olivier Marchal hot for Heat, or what? As you’ll guess from the plot and DVD extras, which include features on weapons and costumes, this tough Parisian policier majors in big men with guns, overcoats and colossal conks. While that’s an old beat, Marchal works it with grit and shades of grey. Digging deeper than Mann, he mines Jean-Pierre Melville’s French thrillers for fatalist undercurrents. And instead of focusing on cop and criminal, he zeroes in on two hard-drinking but contrasted cops competing to catch a pitiless gang of very armed robbers. Daniel Auteuil’s Léo Vrinks is wayward yet honourable, but Gérard Depardieu’s Denis Klein is a much dirtier Harry. The duo add muscle to Marchal’s brash, stylish, truth-based tale, lending a no-nonsense air of seasoned professionalism even to portentous passages. As Gallic cop movies go, it’s on the nose.

 

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