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Le Petit Lieutenant (2005)

Cast: Nathalie Baye, Nathalie Baye, Jalil Lespert, more...
Director: Xavier Beauvois, Xavier Beauvois
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Koch Lorber Films
Genre: Drama, Foreign, France, Crime, Cops
Running Time: 101 min.
Languages: French
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

A young, inexperienced detective is inducted into an elite Paris plainclothes unit in Le Petit Lieutenant, directed by Xavier Beauvois (Don't Forget You're Going to Die). Antoine (Jalil Lespert or Human Resources) is as gung-ho as they come, and eager to learn everything he needs to know to be a good cop, although he misses his wife (Bérangère Allaux), a schoolteacher who stayed behind in the country when Antoine took his new job. Antoine socializes with his new comrades, who seem to drink an awful lot, with the exception of the unit commander, Caroline (Nathalie Baye), an alcoholic who has just returned from a long stint on desk duty. The other experienced detectives that Antoine looks up to are the cynical Louis (Antoine Chappey), and the stalwart Solo (Roschdy Zem), who in addition to the rigors of the job faces bigotry due to his Moroccan origin. When a Polish immigrant is found murdered in a canal near the station, the unit begins a methodical investigation, eventually learning that the victim was last seen with a couple of Russians. When a second victim is rescued from the waters of the canal a few days later, the case takes on a new urgency. As Antoine tries to fit in and learn on the job, Caroline struggles with her addiction and forms an almost maternal bond with the rookie. Le Petit Lieutenant also features Jacques Perrin, and was shown by the Film Society of Lincoln Center as part of their 2006 Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Police Procedural, French Style by talltale April 22, 2007 - 1:10 PM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
LE PETIT LIEUTENANT surprises, as much for what's not in it as for what is. Although there's a plot, you will not find much resolution, or if you do, it will be the sort that leaves you feeling sad and alone. You won't be probing any heavy-duty character study, either, because the characters reveal only what the director/co-writer Xavier Beauvois (with Cedric Anger) wants you to know in order to stay on the outside looking in.

Although a police procedural (French style), it offers no twists nor turns, no coincidences that make for "good" storytelling. And yet the film works rather well. It is involving, believable and finally haunting, and the performances from Natalie Baye ("A Pornographic Affair") and Jalil Lespert ("Human Resources") are subtle and wonderful--though, again, in a very quiet, seemingly ordinary way. The bonus here is being able to follow a mystery almost solely through the eyes of the police who are trying to solve it. It should make you appreciate these problemed men (and one woman) more than you might expect.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.92)
24 Votes
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