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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.
What a good surprise this movie has been ! I just had to let you know about it as soon as possible <br/><br/>As it might not rings any bell in foreigners&#39; 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, &quot;Quai des Orfèvres&quot; means to the French what &quot;Scotland Yard&quot; means to the British.<br/><br/>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&#39;Intervention = Search and Action Squad, the &quot;anti-gangs&quot; squad) in the mid eighties. <br/><br/>In this movie we follow the struggle between two cops.<br/><br/>On one hand we have Vrinks, BRI&#39;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 &quot;dark side&quot; 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&#39;t say anything about his work to his wife (played by the beautiful Valeria Golino), just because he&#39;s afraid that might make her run away… <br/><br/>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. <br/><br/>Tensions exist between these two men who used to be friends. They really don&#39;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&#39;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.<br/><br/>Their boss Robert Mancini, played by André Dussolier (the narrator&#39;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.<br/><br/>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 &quot;background characters&quot; 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. <br/><br/>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&#39;s a great journey.<br/><br/>Olivier Marchal is a former cop yes, but more than that he is also a great thriller movie fans. I&#39;ve used a reference to Heat earlier and, according to some interviews I&#39;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&#39;s work. We are far from a Collateral or a Heat but 36 Quai Des Orfèvres doesn&#39;t have to get redden in front of these masterpieces IMHO. <br/><br/>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. <br/><br/>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&#39;s with great directors like Jean-Pierre Melville. <br/><br/>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
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.<br/><br/>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&#39;s character is the heavy and the actor does a magnificent job. But so does Auteuil as the &quot;good guy&quot; 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.<br/><br/>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&#39;s supposed to do, and a lot more, to grab the viewer by the throat and not let go until the end.<br/><br/>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&#39;s L.627, 1992, is not a strong contender.<br/><br/>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&#39;ll just have to see for yourself.<br/><br/>Very highly recommended. A great thriller–formidable! (French for terrific).


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