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As long as there are cops and criminals, the police procedural will persist. The subgenre appeals to those who truly believe the devil is in the details. In his fourth feature, writer/director Xavier Beauvois may not reinvent the form, but he gets the details right. Though he hones in on one seemingly minor murder, Beauvois is mostly concerned with the plainclothes cops trying to solve it. As the story begins, Antoine (Jalil Lespert,Human Resources) has just been transferred from Normandy to Paris. He couldn't be happier, even if his wife prefers the country. Antoine loves her dearly, but he loves his job just as much. His co-workers include the Jane Tennison-like Inspector Vaudieu (César winner Nathalie Baye), veteran cop Mallet (Antoine Chappey), and Muslim cop Solo (Roschdy Zem). For the most part, they get along pretty well, especially Antoine and Vaudieu, who develops maternal feelings towards the rookie. By depicting theseflicsas fully-rounded individuals, then showing what happens when the worst possible scenario plays out, Beauvois generates an impact far greater than if he had presented them as stereotypical losers or superheroes. There's nothing trendy aboutLe Petit Lieutenant, nor is it an homage to the golden age of the procedural (Bullitt,The French Connection, etc.), but the filmmaker's attention to detail--the thrill of the chase vs. the drudgery of desk work--makesLe Petit Lieutenantthe best procedural in years. It accomplishes more in 101 minutes than most cop shows do in an entire season.--Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Details

CastJacques Perrin, Nathalie Baye, Jalil Lespert, Antoine Chappey, Roschdy Zem
DirectorXavier Beauvois
Genre:  Foreign
Screen WriterXavier Beauvois, Cédric Anger, Guillaume Bréaud, Jean-Eric Troubat
DVD Release Date:  April 10, 2007
Runtime:  110 minutes
Studio:  Koch Lorber Films
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review by . May 06, 2011
A fine police procedural that, half-way through, delivers an unexpected emotional wallop
"There was the liver, the lungs, the heart, all set out on the table like a butcher's display box," says new police lieutenant Antoine Derouere (Jalil Lespert). "This'll sound stupid but I thought of Mozart. I thought, 'How can that stuff compose music like that?'"       In Le Petit Lieutenant, Derouere is newly graduated from the police academy in his home town of Le Havre. He gets his first choice of an assignment, a plain-clothes homicide …
review by . July 10, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
(3 1/2) While watching `Le Petit Lieutenant' I had to keep asking myself, `Why is this movie anything better than a US crime series?' Often watching foreign movies, I have to back up and say, 'How can I judge this movie?' After all, there is a temptation to give a French movie an unfair advantage or to demote its value based on American standard or yardstick. Either way is an insult to everyone. Comparing, `Le Petit Lieutenant' to `Law and Order,' a fine American crime series, yielded some results. …
review by . April 15, 2007
Director Xavier Beauvois, with the intelligent and sensitive script he co-wrote with Cédric Anger, Guillaume Bréaud and Jean-Eric Troubat, allows us, the viewers, to look inside the minds and lives of those people who commit to police work in a manner that pays homage to a maligned group and reinstates our visceral support to the spectrum of on the edge terror mixed with spaces of ennui that these people endure. LA PETIT LIEUTENANT is not a crime film: it is a deeply touching inside view of the …
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Le Petit Lieutenant (2005)
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