Paris' "36 Quai des Orfèvres" means London's Scotland Yard and this gritty French neo-noir is part inspired by real-life events that happened in January, 1985, according to the director Olivier Marchal, who formerly worked as police officer during the 1980s. The film stars Daniel Auteuil as Léo Vrinks, the leader of BRI, division of the Paris Police, and Gérard Depardieu as Denis Klein, head of BRB, another division of the same organization.
The premise looks familiar; Léo and Denis chase the same heavily-armed ruthless robbers who terrify the city, but Léo, who knows the underworld of Paris better than anyone, is always one step ahead of power-hungry Denis who desperately wants to arrest the criminals to get promoted. The intricate relations between the characters involve Camille (Valéria Golino), Léo's wife, to whom Denis seems still attached.
The tension slowly but steadily rises as the story unfolds, and when the gangsters are finally found, one of the characters does one unexpected thing, which triggers a chain reaction of the events beyond the ill-fated characters' control. Despite some unlikely behaviors of some characters and several coincidences, director Olivier Marchal (who briefly appears as one ex-convict Christo) did a fine job in keeping the tension and slick pace of the film throughout the story.
"36 Quai des Orfèvres" is a slick crime drama with tight storyline, supported by great performances from the actors, especially Daniel Auteuil and Gérard Depardieu. The film is not without predictable places, but still the intense conflict between the two leading characters is always fascinating to see.