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Le Petit Lieutenant

4.1 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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(Apr 10, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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, drinking with his fellow detectives and developing an unlikely relationship with his superior, a veteran policewoman with a troubled past. But when the body of a drifter is found murdered along the Seine, a seemingly routine investigation suddenly turns violent and forever changes all their lives.
"An impeccably wrought contemporary police story." – Stephen Holden, The New York Times

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 these flics as 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 about Le 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--makes Le Petit Lieutenant the best procedural in years. It accomplishes more in 101 minutes than most cop shows do in an entire season. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • In French with English subtitles
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Photo gallery

Product Details

  • Actors: Nathalie Baye, Jalil Lespert, Roschdy Zem, Antoine Chappey, Jacques Perrin
  • Directors: Xavier Beauvois
  • Writers: Xavier Beauvois, Cédric Anger, Guillaume Bréaud, Jean-Eric Troubat
  • Producers: Martine Cassinelli, Pascal Caucheteux
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Koch Lorber Films
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2007
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,874 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Le Petit Lieutenant" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stanley H. Nemeth on April 11, 2007
Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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(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.
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"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?'" 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 unit in Paris. He's ambitious and eager to get involved with real crime solving, and what better place than Paris. His wife is not thrilled. She stays in Le Havre and he goes to Paris, rents a room and meets the men in his unit. There's Captain Berrada, always called Solo, Lieutenant Nicolas Morbe, Lieutenant Patrick Belval and Officer Louis Mallet. The unit is headed by Commandant Caroline Vaudier (Nathalie Baye), who has the reputation of one of the top cops in Paris. She's in her fifties, an alcoholic who sits through Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, hasn't had a drink in two years, still mourns her son who died at 7 of meningitis. She begins to take an interest in this eager young cop. The interest isn't romantic; Derouere is as old as her son would have been had he lived.

The autopsy Derouere observed was his first, and it was on a tramp who had been beaten to death and left on the Seine embankment. It was the same tramp, drunk to incoherence, who'd been picked up on the street two days earlier and tossed into a cell for the night. Soon after, the team is called on to investigate the stabbing of an old man who had been robbed and thrown in the Seine. Now Vaudier mobilizes her team to try to identify the assailants, track them down and bring them in. All they have to go on is that the two might be Russian, one with the name of Piotr, who probably have no papers.
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