36 [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Palisades Tartan Video
Review written by and copyright: Stevie McCleary (30th March 2010).
The Film

Oliver Marchal’s second film "36" (or "36 Quai des Orfèvres") is a French crime thriller in the vein of standouts like "Heat" (1995) – and it holds its own.

Right from the first couple scenes, you are left with no doubt as to the film you are watching – it is glossy, yes, but unapologetically brutal nonetheless in its depiction of the ever dissolving line between criminals and the men who are supposed to be opposing them. Their methods are simple enough – get the job done at all costs. It is irrelevant who gets in the way and who suffers. The end goal is all that is important. And that is just the police.

The two heavyweights of French cinema, Daniel Auteuil and Gérard Depardieu, take centre stage here and it’s a tale worthy of the talent. The previous Chief of Police is moving on and wants an infamous band of armed robbers caught before he leaves. So he makes it a simple statement – whichever head of department helps close the case will become the new Chief. Not surprisingly, this sets Klein (Gérard Depardieu) and Vrinks (Daniel Auteuil) against each other. The battle lines are drawn very quickly as Klein, grizzled and out for himself, intends to get ahead at any cost as he has for most of his career. Vrinks, however, is more grounded and is visibly weary with his life. The situation grows ever more difficult to him and he’s all too aware of the road that is being travelled.

As mentioned, it is a glossy affair and one reminiscent of a lot of euro-style TV & film. Depending on how you feel about it, we are ‘treated’ to copious amounts of slow motion with sweeping shots, a powerful score, and the sense of self-importance that comes naturally to this genre. There is not a great deal of urgency in the script, it takes its time and delivers a gradual rise in tension, all along promising that you have no control over which direction it is heading in. It is turns like this that takes it further and further away from the supposed ‘inspired by a true story’ label that is referenced, but it does make for an interesting turn of events along the way. You can see the influences of Sergio Leone quite heavily in the execution of pace and tone, as well as other films like "The Godfather" (1972) which lends some of its style to the work as well.

I suppose what holds it back from being great, and settling for just being good, is that the script itself settles. It never really branches out from what you’d really expect from a film like this and relies on the acting talent to carry it along. They do this quite well but there is not really a tremendous amount of depth to what they are doing. It is just that the actors themselves bring gravitas to what they do almost by instinct alone.

In the end, "36" falls into the category of ‘very good, but not great’. It is a worthy entry in the genre of crime fiction and maintains a healthy dose of tension throughout, even after a jump of several years partway into the film. Definitely a film to watch if you really enjoy crime films, as it is an above average entry into the genre. You definitely won’t be bored watching it. It just comes across somewhat lacking and I think that has something to do with the overall look and script – but this is something, as said, that merely prevents it from reaching greatness. As it stands, it is a good thriller with no glaring flaws or issues. You could do far worse than give this one a watch, believe me.

Video

Presented in the film's widescreen ratio of 2.35:1 1080p 24/fps HD encoded with AVC MPEG-4 compression. "36" carries a dark blue gritty hue and it works well here in high-definition with a crisp and rich image that resembles the theatrical filmic look well. The image is nicely sharp and detailed from the close-ups to the backgrounds the depth of field is retained and presentation looks solid. Colours look great with bold blues, deep blacks and grey tones that hold up well throughout, the bleak image is rendered well and with a clean print the overall result is pretty good, the only think holding it back from being a stellar image is some edge-enhancement that pops up now and then.

Audio

A single French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround is included mixed at 48kHz/24-bit and the film features English subtitles. The soundtrack is quite robust and presents the film with an adequate amount of depth that is lacking in the standard 5.1 track from the DVD release. The DTS-HD audio features incredible range and balances quiet subtle moments with an aggressive nature that lets the bass rumble in. The dialogue is clear and distortion free, ambient sounds are well mixed into the sound space and nothing sounds misplaced. The aggressive scenes hold their own as well in this well mixed and immersive audio track.

Extras

Palisades Tartan have released this film with an interview, three featurettes and two trailers, below is a closer look at these supplements.

"Oliver Marchal Interview" – A real insight into the story, in this interview the director shares how much of the film is autobiographical and what is based off events that he heard about. In particular, two of his friends are the basis for the main characters. The director was once a policeman himself and outlines that the film is not a realistic thriller but that the pain and solitude presented in the film is accurate. More films should have a feature like this on the disc, with good questions being posed at the director about where they are coming from. It definitely increased my enjoyment of the film after learning more about the creation of it. A film has to stand on its own but learning more about the process and intention can bring to life so much more. Good feature that runs for 9 minutes 36 seconds.

"Making 36" featurette, going through the process of making "36" from the very beginning of shooting. This is a very down to earth feature, as it is made up of mostly raw footage of the crew working, set partially to a score. Interesting fact in that the first day of shooting involves the first scene of the film too. I do prefer this type of look behind-the-scenes, rather than the puff pieces that are seen on many other DVD and Blu-ray releases so often. This shows you quite well what the filming process is like on set and location. Running time is 27 minutes 42 seconds.

"Choosing Costumes" featurette, this is a behind-the-scenes footage of cast & crew going through make-up and clothing tests. Very loose and casual footage. If you’ve ever been on a film set you know exactly what this is like, but it would be of interest to some people. Running time is 13 minutes 40 seconds.

"Choosing Weapons" featurette is a behind-the-scenes footage of the crew in a weapons room deciding which to use, and how they all work in relation to what the actors would need to do. It’s a fascinating look into a part of the process that is often ignored, as they discuss what each weapon is capable of and whether the script and action fits each one. Best feature on the disc and runs for 13 minutes 6 seconds.

The disc also features the original theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 59 seconds and the film's original teaser trailer which runs for 51 seconds.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: B+ Audio: A+ Extras: B- Overall: B

 


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