36 Quai des Ofèvres

           36  QUAI DES OFÈVRES is a crackling good policier enlivened by the
   fifth big screen pairing of two of France's best actors, Daniel Auteuil and
   Gérard Depardieu. While it took four writers to concoct the plot, the film
   still rises above the norm to deliver thrills and action.

           The story line is fairly straightforward: two detectives, heads of rival
   teams, are assigned to investigate a series of robberies. The prize for the
   man who solves the case is a promotion. As
36 QUAI DES OFÈVRES unfolds,
   the audience learns that the pair share more than just a professional
   competition; these are former friends who were once rivals for the
   affections of the same woman (Valeria Golino).

           Opening with a wonderful set piece that crosscuts between a
   retirement party for a policeman and an assault on the owner of the
   establishment where the celebration is occurring. The owner, a former
   prostitute named Manou (Mylène Demongeot) is a close friend of Léo
   Vrinks (Auteuil) who swears vengeance. And he ekes out a nasty
   punishment on the attackers once they are located. In thanks, Manou
   provides a lead on the robberies, but that lead falls apart when the
   suspect jumps out of a window, dragging Vrinks with him.

           A snitch used by Vrinks named Silien (Roschdy Zem) tips off the
   cop to the location of the gang, but he also uses his time with the cop
   to commit a murder -- using the unwitting Vrinks as his alibi. Hoping
   to land the promotion, Vrinks heads to apprehend the robbers, but the
   stakeout is compromised by Denis Klein (Depardieu), his rival. There is
   much double crossing and Vrinks eventually is investigated by internal
   affairs over his relationship with Silien -- all masterminded, of course, by
   Klein. With Vrinks in jail, Klein receives the promotion.

           While jailed, Vrinks' wife (Golino) is killed. Years pass and he
   eventually is released bent solely on revenge. Whether or not he is
   able to eke out a just punishment on Klein is the crux of the film.

           Olivier Marchal, one of the film's three writers and its director, spent
   many years on the French police force, so he brings a level of truth to
   the material that otherwise might be lacking. (Indeed, he claims it is
   based in part on true events.) He directs with a fluid style that allows his
   two lead actors to shine. Both Auteuil and Depardieu offer terrific
   performances.

           As a note, the film's title refers to the police headquarters in Paris,
   much as Scotland Yard in London or One Police Plaza in New York City.  
   This movie also does not have anything to do with Henri-Georges
   Clouzot's 1947 thriller
QUAI DES OFÈVRES  which revolved around a
   murder. On its own, however,
36 QUAI DES OFÈVRES proves to be a
   wholly satisfying and thrilling experience.

                                 
                                                  
Rating:                B+



                   Viewed at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
                                   2005 Rendez-vous with French Cinema