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:: 36 Quai des Orfèvres

To many, this film’s foreign, French title, “36 Quai des Orfèvres” offers no insight to its actual matter, that of the quick paced, crooked and clever world of French police crime and corruption. But, what if you were told that this film was closely resembled to Heat in subject matter, or similar to The Count Of Monte Cristo for its large scale production sequences and excellent acting, especially between two main protagonists?

And, what if you found out that this thriller that features showers of bullets, speeding Renaults and the obligatory French fondness for tasteful nudity, was infact directed by an ex-cop who had real experience observing the police corruption in the 1980s?

Lastly, would your interest in this film increase if you discovered that 36 was the biggest grossing movie in France in 2004?

Well, yes, all this is true and 36 enthrals from start to end, especially end, with its French cop Leo Vrinks (Daniel Auteuil), who bears an uncanny resemble to De Niro, and his old former buddy, colleague and bitter rival, Denis Klein (Gérard Depardieu.)

Of the two corrupt cops, Vrinks is the one who captures sympathy by his preference for putting his family before work. On the contrary, Klein is cruel, and is willing to do anything, or “waste” as the movie calls killing, waste anyone to climb the career ladder.

Klein is below the belt, but that what director, Olivier Marchal, represents as the villainous character in his movie, suggesting perhaps that this was or could be, standard practice in the world of police corruption. A colleague spits at him, “Among criminals guys like you end up with three slugs in their head!” Among corrupt cops, he is the captain. Worsen the Vrinks/Klein rivalry with the fact that Klein once loved Vrinks’ beautiful curly-haired wife Camille ((Valeria Golino) before Vrinks married her.

The whole movie explores constant splits between loyalty and avenging, family and work, moral and evil and of these, the latter is intertwined the most. This is a theme that has been heavily explored in Hollywood crime movies. Yet, this version, a classy French offering on it, is free of generic characteristics of American crime films. No New York or Chicago setting, no actors’ accents dripping with nasal Bronx undertones. Yet, it does retain the chain smoking cop scenes and worn leather jackets worn by cops and crims alike, in this case, it is uber Euro leather.

It is French, it is tasteful, it is an action packed thriller, and it introduces us to Olivier Marchal, a director with a talent for stylistic yet sensitive technique. Do expect more cinematic treats to come from this French director/writer.

DVD Extras

- Making of
- Promo Reel
- Original Theatrical Trailer and Teaser