36 Quai des Orfèvres (film)

36 Quai des Orfèvres
Directed by Olivier Marchal
Produced by Franck Chorot
Cyril Colbeau-Justin
Jean-Baptiste Dupont
Written by Olivier Marchal
Franck Mancuso
Julien Rappeneau
Starring Daniel Auteuil
Gérard Depardieu
Music by Erwann Kermorvant
Axelle Renoir
Cinematography Denis Rouden
Edited by Hugues Darmois
Distributed by Gaumont Film Company
Release dates
  • 24 November 2004 (2004-11-24)
Running time
110 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget €13 million[1]
Box office $18.3 million[2]

36 Quai des Orfèvres (also known as 36th Precinct and Department 36) is a 2004 French film directed by Olivier Marchal and starring Daniel Auteuil and Gérard Depardieu. The film takes place in Paris, where two cops (Auteuil and Depardieu) are competing for the vacant seat of chief of the Paris Criminal police while involved in a search for a gang of violent thieves. The film is directed by Olivier Marchal, a former police officer who spent 12 years in the French police. The story is loosely inspired from real events which occurred during the 1980s in France (see the gang des postiches arrest). The film was nominated for eight César Awards.


The story revolves around two Prefecture of Police officers: Léo Vrinks (Daniel Auteuil), head of the BRI and Denis Klein (Gérard Depardieu), head of the BRB. Both want to catch a vicious gang of armoured-car robbers that have killed nine people. But when their immediate superior, the chief of the criminal police (André Dussolier), announces that he will soon retire, the rivalry pushes Klein to play dirty in order to get the promotion.

Vrinks is a good investigative detective with a loyal cadre of detectives and officers, as well as a stable of unsavory informants he has cultivated over the years. Klein, who has questionable ethics, is not so accomplished. Vrinks also helps people, in particular a bar tender who was raped and beaten by a criminal, Bruno (Ivan Franek), who was robbing the bistro where she was employed. Vrinks and his team kidnap Bruno, and drive him out to a forest for punishment. The gangster is stripped naked, given a mock execution, pushed into open grave, and warned to never molest that woman again. Unfortunately, Vrinks' methods catch up with him when he is tricked by Silien (Roschdy Zem), an incarcerated informant on day release, to be his getaway driver in the murder of Silien's gangster colleagues whose testimony had sent Silien to prison. However, the murdered guy was too one of Klein's informants, so Silien, in a quid pro quo exchange of Vrinks's alibi and silence, reveals the detective where the armoured-car gang are hiding, in an industrial suburb.

Vrinks and his team stake out the factory, with Klein's team acting as backup, but after patient surveillance, when on the verge of catching the robbers, Klein ignores procedure, and drunkenly comes out of hiding. The gang, alerted thereby, spark a firefight, which results in the death of Vrinks' best friend and taking hostage a young detective woman.

An internal investigation is launched into the botched operation, but Klein avoids censure for his behaviour, when finding a prostitute and illegal immigrant who witnessed Silien's murder, and saw Vrinks who drove him out of the scene. Vrinks is arrested and thrown into jail for his role by a cop-hating judge, whereas Klein is exonerated by the police inquiry of the failed gang arrest, because Vrinks' evidence is ruled inadmissible to incriminate him. While awaiting his indictment proceeding, Vrinks manage to disarm his guards just to obtain a free short face to face meeting with Camille (Valeria Golino) in the Court's corridor.

Later Camille is contacted by Silien, and they agree to meet, but their phone call is tapped by Klein's team, who follow her to the meeting our of town. Silien gets into her car, gives her some money to keep on, whereas Klein's people move in, and a car chase is on, whereby Camille's car is forced off the road. It ends by her car crushing, and the killing of both her and Silien, which enables Klein to clear his name again. He uses Silien's gun to first shoot the already dead Camille, then use his own gun to shoot at Silien body. It now looks like the informant shot Camille in the car, causing them to veer off the road, and Klein shot Silien in self-defence.

Seven years later, Vrinks is released from prison for just his silence in Silien's killings. Klein, who has become chief of the Paris criminal police, kept people silent by handing out promotions or by forcing others to retire or transfer. Vrinks then has an emotional reunion with his now grown up daughter, telling her that he is going far away, but first he has to take care of unfinished business. Vrinks goes to see Titi, an old colleague, who quit the police and works at a club, where he was recently threatened by men who were ejected out and seemed strangely familiar, namely the friends of Bruno, the rapist whom Vrink's people abandoned naked in the forest.

Vrinks gets a gun from Titi, planning to take revenge on Klein who is attending the annual Parisian police ball. Using a stolen police ID, Vrinks gets into the venue and confronts Klein in the lavatory. Meanwhile, the men who were ejected from the club follow Vrinks to the soiree, and wait ominously outside. Klein explains that Camille was already dead when he shot her, and Vrinks realises what a sad man Klein has become and suggests he kill himself with the gun that he brought. After Vrinks leaves, Klein follows him into the street shouting obscenities and blaming Vrinks for Camille's death. Afterwards, Bruno shows up on a motorcycle and shoots Klein in the head. It is then revealed that Titi said to his attackers at the bar, Klein's name, instead of Vrinks's name.

Vrinks meets his daughter at the airport. The film ends with them queuing at the airport security check, on their way for a new life abroad.


Aurore Auteuil, the actress who plays Vrinks' daughter (as a grown up) in the film is Daniel Auteuil's real life daughter.


In naming the informant Silien, Olivier Marchal is making a conscious tribute to the whole genre of the French "Policier", Silien being a character in the classic film Le Doulos, played by Jean-Paul Belmondo.[3]

See also


External links

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