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Le Petit Lieutenant
Le Petit Lieutenant
Actors: Nathalie Baye, Jalil Lespert, Roschdy Zem, Antoine Chappey, Jacques Perrin
Director: Xavier Beauvois
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2007     1hr 50min

A gripping police noir, LE PETIT LIEUTENANT tells the story of Antoine, an ambitious young cop from the provinces who joins a plainclothes crime unit in Paris. Antoine spends his days eagerly awaiting his first assignment,...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Nathalie Baye, Jalil Lespert, Roschdy Zem, Antoine Chappey, Jacques Perrin
Director: Xavier Beauvois
Creators: Caroline Champetier, Xavier Beauvois, Martine Cassinelli, Pascal Caucheteux, Cédric Anger, Guillaume Bréaud, Jean-Eric Troubat
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/10/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 50min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French, Polish, Russian
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 04/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Delve into the personal lives of an elite French police unit on the most intimate level.
There is murder and death and crimes to be solved. And all the troubling foibles and
flaws of human behavior on both sides of the law.

This is great character-driven story telling and exquisite filmmaking. It was nominated
for six Cesars including Best Picture. Nathalie Bay won for Best Actress.

Not knowing the plot in advance is a big plus. I was intensely involved. Don't miss it if
you are an adult with a refined sense of cinema at its best. This one will knock you out."
"An Expert Melodrama"
Stanley H. Nemeth | Garden Grove, CA United States | 04/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film, the sort of work Graham Greene without condescension called "an entertainment," is a fine achievement within the confines of its modern Parisian police story limits, confines it is intelligent enough not to transgress. However, it does happily push against these confines to the fullest allowable extent, becoming as a result not just a thrilling melodrama, but also a surprisingly affecting one.

At the outset, it spends a fairly liesurely time telling us about the home life of a new cop (Jalil Lespert) eager to make his mark and a veteran of the force who takes him under her wing, a recovering alcoholic and grieving mother (Natalie Baye) anxious to return to police work where she has in the past found some meaning in her otherwise troubled life. Both Lespert and Baye turn in wonderful performances, and they are ably abetted by a supporting cast which has not a single weak link. Further, when things go wrong for these central characters in the latter portion of the film, the liesurely setup has a great payoff; we care about their misfortunes to a greater extent than we would those of merely stereotypical police drama characters. All in all, this is a finely crafted melodrama without pretensions, and wholly enjoyable as just such."
A Deeply Touching View of Policemen
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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 men and women who protect us.

Opening with well-staged Le Havre Police Academy graduation images Beauvois focuses on newly graduated Antoine Derouère (Jalil Lespert) as he says goodbye to his family and his wife Julie (Bérangère Allaux), a school teacher who pleads with Antoine not to leave Le Havre for Paris, the destination Antoine seeks to prove his desire for an active detective career. The kind but inexperienced Antoine takes up residence in Paris and is assigned to a homicide unit with equally inexperienced young men who learn the ropes of owning a gun, the embarrassment of performance problems at the shooting range, the awkward first 'arrests' and interrogations, and the endless hours of sitting at a desk waiting for activity. Newly assigned as the head of Antoine's unit is Commandant Caroline Vaudieu (the extraordinary actress Nathalie Baye) who has just come off a two year sabbatical to recover from alcoholism and the associated death of her son from meningitis. The manner in which these people bond is quiet and sensitive and when finally a case comes to their attention - a man found dead in the canal - the force joins begins what they all need to do: the killer must be found.

Clues are explored, people are traced, and Antoine and Vandieu form a particularly close bond, Antoine reminding Vandieu of the son she has lost and Vandieu providing the model for his career. Tension mounts as the criminals are pursued, coincidences occur and a tragedy cracks the bond of the group, affecting each member of the small force immeasurably. It is this very human happening and its effects that wind the movie down to moments of painful acceptance of the life of police people.

The entire cast is first rate and provides ensemble acting that is among the finest on screen. But the portrayal by Nathalie Baye is so multifaceted, embracing the inner trauma of personal losses not only of those she loves but also of her own sense of dignity as she faithfully attends AA meetings, that her performance is triumphant. Jalil Lespert also captures the fine line between innocence and experience that makes his portrait of a new detective not only completely credible but also one that leaves a mark on the heart. The direction and the cinematography by Caroline Champetier keep the film nearly monochromatic, the only color that is left to shock us for a brief moment is the red blood at moments of tension. And the lack of a musical score keeps the tone of the humanity of the film intact, never reducing it to a bombastic Hollywood chase and kill film. This is a little jewel of a film that deserves a very wide audience. Highly Recommended. In French, Polish, and Russian with English subtitles. Grady Harp, April 07"
'Le Petit' Noir
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 07/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"(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. While the developments and investigations in the movie remind one of any crime series, some elements definitely put this movie ahead. The authenticity of the characters seems even more vivid and real. Especially the dialogue reveals a good deal about the nature of France's police force and more than a self-examination of French culture.

The movie begins with the graduation of the titled character, Antoine Deroue're (Jalil Lespert) from the police academy. He's already an elite member of the force, a lieutenant, but still a new fish in the pond. He's left his school teacher wife behind in Le Havre to pursue his career in Paris. His new supervisor, Caroline Vaudieu (Nathalle Baye), is a sort of "super cop" from a "family of super cops". Newly reinstated, she is greeted enthusiastically as she returns after two years of complications only hinted at as a recovering alcoholic. His new division comes across with great authenticity. His initiation includes the escapades of his colleagues and their conversations are full of sentiments about their work, specifically, and about France in general. Included are unvarnished prejudices of foreigners; something that sets up the main plot well. In one conversation, one officer after a few beers offers eloquently: "Paris now sucks." In the discourse they decide the turning point was 1995. One of the brightest lights of the force is a colleague of Moroccan decent who shares that it took him years before he was accepted as one of group. During the engaging prologue, we see the run-of-the-mill development of Antoine develop until early on when he runs into a rare case of real import: A Polish man, seemingly homeless, is dragged up from the Seine River and revealed to have been cruelly murdered.

`Le Petit Lieutenant' works well because the dialogue is excellent, the action feels real, and the complications and setbacks develop naturally. In one of the scenes, I was truly moved by the unexpected. A development took a while for the characters to get over as well as for me as I watched. There is also effective humor. In one scene, Antoine and his supervisor are smoking marijuana in a park. A nightfly comes by to mooch a drag from their joint. Parting, he warns them, "Watch out. This place is crawling with cops."

In the end, that's how 'Le Petit Lieutenant' is distinctive. The details show some of the futility of a young, dedicated man in emotional times with absorbing characters and the repercussions of their lives."