Film review by Colin Fraser


36 Quai des Orfevres
A professional conflict between two police officers becomes personal as they chase a gang that could change their fortunes. score

moviereview rates films from
1 (unwatchable) to 5 (unmissable)
Daniel Auteuil, Gérard Depardieu, André Dussollier

Olivier Marchal

Dominique Loiseau


Rating / Running Time
MA / 110 minutes

Australian Release
November 2005

Official Site

(c) moviereview 2005
ABN 72 775 390 361

From the very start, 36 Quai des Orfevres is a thrilling example of the French cinematic legacy, of crime thrillers. The story begins with two scenes: a group of celebrating police is cut with a gang that physically violates the owner of a bar. Director Olivier Marchal establishes the thin line between good and bad, the moral ambiguity by which his story evolves. The trigger-happy vandalism of the former blurs delineation between the thuggery of the latter. 

Soon after, a professional and increasingly personal competition develops between two seasoned officers - Denis Klein (Gérard Depardieu) and Léo Vrinks (Daniel Auteuil) –  who are on the heels of the same criminals. The means they employ to catch them and secure a promotion becomes increasingly acrimonious, reckless and unethical. 

Marchal had a previous career in law enforcement and brings a bold sense of reality to a story about the lengths some people will go to get a result. He’s also a seasoned film nut who draws on a lineage of stylized and highly effective crime thrillers, with mixed results. Auteuil and, to a lesser extent, Depardieu anchor the film with bold and impeccable performances that are, as you might expect, as accomplished as they are highly entertaining. Thrilling stunt work and the vibrant cinematography of Denis Rouden (veteran of seven Emmanuelle films) lends the piece a crisp edge. 

It’s the ongoing lack of surprise and inevitable face off between Klein and Vrinks that feels convenient and overly contrived. There’s little wonder where these characters will end up which is unfortunate, but in no way dispiriting. Incidentally, this is the first time Depardieu and Auteuil have worked together since Jean de Florette (1986).