***** Braquo Series 1 (2009)
A few years back, the French crime thriller MR73 from writer and director Olivier Marchal simply blew me away. Its stylized, colour-drained palette and tense, hard-edged pacing pushed it to the very top of my favourite films that year. Daniel Auteuil played a police detective trying to protect a woman whose family was murdered in front of her by a madmen on the verge of being paroled for the crime. It’s a haunting film with a never-better Auteuil playing a man whose psyche is in tatters and remains only marginally more stable than the criminal he’s trying to catch.
Immediately after MR 73, Marchal moved to French television writing and directing the series Braquo, the first season of which arrives on Region 1 DVD on Tuesday. True to form, Marchal has produced another masterstroke in this similarly dark and bruising cop drama. Braquo follows the exploits of a group of Parisian cops who regularly cross the line and are often just as brutal as the criminals they are aligned against. If you’re looking for a drama brimming with the milk of human kindness, stay as far away from this one as you can. If you like your Gallic policiers served blood-red however, they don’t get any better (or meaner) than this. The opening scene of the first episode is all you need to see. If you’re not hooked by the end of it, shut it off and bring it back to the shop because it only gets grimmer from there.
This is the best thing I’ve seen thus far in 2012 and it’s been a pretty decent year. Joe, order one for the FBE. It’s definitely worth having.