Saturday, September 10, 2011

36th Precinct (2004)****

 Reviewed by Shu Zin

36th PRECINCT is a gritty and very dark French cops film directed by former detective Olivier Marchal about the politics of policing. It stars two all-time greats: Daniel Auteuil as Vrinks, and Gerard Depardieu as Klein, two rival veteran cops. The bits we see about their personal lives are essential to the story, unlike those television efforts in which personal lives seem a distraction or an element added to attract a wider audience.

Super performances and intelligent writing are complimented by Marchal’s wickedly playful direction. For example, I loved how les flics (Auteuil, here) treat a bad guy who raped and beat up Manou, in a scene that immediately follows a warning from the soon-to-be-promoted boss: that Vrinks has to give up the old ways and follow the rules, by the book, to the letter! Even so, it is silly that Manou’s boyfriend tells Vrinks he wants the names of these guys, when all he would have to do would be to ask Manou. And what is a French flic doing with a Virginia State Police patch? I’m sure there must be a reason, but it eluded me.

There’s also a super-tough femme cop. Oops. See how she functions! Bien, mes amis, this is a compelling movie, generally well-made, with plenty of surprises, an intelligent, complex, sophisticated postmodernist story. It’s brill and subtle, a harrowing film! The subtitles are a bit fast, so you may hit stop and back up a few times, but it is worth the effort. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Shu Zin


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