Sunday, October 19, 2008

Le Petit Lieutenant (2005)

This movie was on the shelf at the library. Knowing nothing about it, I grabbed it as an experiment in fate. In a few minutes, you meet Antoine (Jalil Lespert) as he graduates from the police academy, selects his assignment and joins a plainclothes homicide division in Paris to get away from Normandy and the ho-hum life he expects as a policeman there.

I'm Bored In Paris, he gets a room in a boarding house, meets his co-workers and gets to know his supervisor, Caroline (Nathalie Baye), a recovering alcoholic, as he awaits his first assignment. When a dead man is fished out of the Seine, Antoine gets the excitement he's anxiously been awaiting. As he and his partners are on the trail of two mysterious Russians that may hold the key to the dead man, you learn more about Antoine and Caroline. He's likeable and his character development is compelling. His relationship with Caroline is interesting because he is the age that her son would have been had he not died. This is subtle but it does affect the storyline; however, the director/writers missed a good opportunity to use this detail. The acting was pretty good but the story is missing an arc.

My gripes are a) an important sub-plot is that Antoine has a wife he's left behind in his home town of Le Havre. She isn't present at his graduation, but you suddenly see his wedding band when he's in Paris (it was a distracting detail as it seemed to appear out of the blue); b) the movie moves along fast to try and find the Russians but you don't really learn why the guy in the river was killed; and c) the movie starts with Antoine as the protagonist and then, 3/4 of the way in, becomes Caroline's movie. The reasons leading up to this are clear, but it becomes disjointed and many unknowns remain. The ending is abrupt; it made sense but left me unsatisfied.

Director: Xavier Beauvois

Country: France

Genre: Drama

Minutes:  110 minutes

Scale: 2

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