Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nathalie Baye, Jalil Lespert, Roschdy Zem, Antoine Chappey, Jacques Perrin, Xavier Beauvois, Berangere Allaux, Arthur Smykiewicz
Written by: Xavier Beauvois, C�dric Anger, Guillaume Br�aud, Jean-Eric Troubat
Directed by: Xavier Beauvois
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Polish, Russian, French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 110
Date: 08/31/2005

Le Petit Lieutenant (2006)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Getting a Clue

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This police procedural from director Xavier Beauvois (Ponette, Ars�ne Lupin) has a clipped, Bressonian quality that makes it frustrating but also increasingly fascinating. The story has a middle-aged lady detective, and recovering alcoholic, Caroline Vaudieu (Natalie Baye) rejoining the Paris police and teaming with a fresh-faced rookie Antoine (Jalil Lespert). The film smacks a bit of the BBC's "Prime Suspect," but while that mini-series delves into the murky psychological depths of Helen Mirren's character, Le Petit Lieutenant stays steadfastly on the surface. Caroline and her younger cohort begin to investigate the murder of a homeless man, dumped in the Siene, and discover two large Russians as their most likely suspects. But while tramping through the numbing routine of investigative work, Antoine lets his guard down at just the wrong time. The second half of the movie picks up as Caroline continues the case, this time with a personal slant. Baye (Venus Beauty Institute, The Flower of Evil) is the real reason to see this film; she embodies sexiness, strength and vulnerability with a minimum of fussiness.

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