Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

When first have the misfortune of running into Police Inspector Schneider (Daniel Auteiul) in the film ‘MR73’ he could very well be at the high point of his life in this movie as he is stinking drunk, smells of urine and has hijacked a bus full of unassuming Parisians at gun point. One would think that such behavior could possibly have one relieved of their duties as an enforcer of the law but it seems that Schneider has done so much good work during his sober, non-piss smelling days that he gets off with yet another stern warning. But by golly this is the last one. The reason my man Schneider is such a mess is that he’s dealing with, and poorly dealing with, a tragic accident which has cost him the life of his young daughter and left his wife in an unrecoverable vegetative state, and for reasons that aren’t really made too terribly clear, he blames himself.

But the man is a damn good cop and in one of the two stories in this film, we work with Schneider and his less accomplished partner Mateo (Gerald Laroche) as they attempt to track a rather brutal serial killer who bounds and sodomizes his victims and in the process leaves behind very few clues.

The second story in the film involves a woman named Justine (Olivia Bonamy) who has also lived a life full of emotional pain stemming from the fact she witnessed the brutal murder of her father and the subsequent rape and murder of her mother as a child, with the killer for whatever reasons deciding to allow young Justine and her younger sister to live. The problem for Justine as our film starts is that the culprit for this crime, Charles Subra (Phillipe Nahon), is up for parole and considering he’s been a model citizen for the last thirty or so years and has apparently ‘found Jesus’, he’s about to spring free from the joint, though we have our doubts about the mans actual rehabilitation.

The stories do connect further down the road in this film but before this happens we get to witness Inspector Schneider further his efforts to destroy himself, his odd relationship with his boss Police Captain Marie Angeli (Catherine Marchal) who we assume is like filthy rich, because though this has little to do with the movie, we get see Ms. Marchal doing some yoga on the deck of her villa which seems to be right off the French Riviera. Sweet. Schneider also must deal with his arch enemy on the force in inspector Kovalski (Francis Reanaud) who has taken the case of the sodomizing serial killer away from Schneider despite the fact that he’s among the worlds most inept police officers. Think Clouseau but not in the least bit funny, and having a deep love for prostitutes. Eventually Schneider figures some things out which unfortunately necessitate some serious house cleaning, and that’s about all we can tell you about that.

We also can’t even tell you what the title really stands for in this movie as that description kind of gives some more stuff away, though I’m not sure why writer / director Oliver Marchal chose that for the title of his film, a film of which I have read is third in a trilogy of films about cops and the business of crime. Nonetheless ‘MR73’ is a film that is stark, gritty, harsh and damned unpleasant but has still left me with the burning desire to check out his first two films. It’s a good film without being an entertaining one as it is difficult to find a lot of entertainment value in the bleak reality that exists in the sorry lives of the characters that Marchal has created.

This being said almost everything about ‘MR73’ is uniformly excellent from the bleak and drawn cinematography, the slow but steady and intriguing pace of the film and the outstanding performances by the lead actors. Daniel Auteiul’s Schneider is easily one of the most self destructive characters in the history of modern cinema, a character who exists seemingly to cause himself as much pain as possible and doesn’t seem to be seeking any redemption, just an eventual way out of life. But he still, perhaps because of his loyalty to duty, does the best he can to solve the crimes that have plagued his city. Equally impressive is Olivia Bonamy who could very well possess Frances most devastating pair of eyes this side of Audrey Tatou, and she uses them quite effectively to emote her characters anger and sadness which the character has no control over.

Again this is a grim dark movie with nary a single moment of levity, highlighted by the fact that everybody seems to drive a Chrysler. I didn’t even know they sold Chrysler’s in France, not that I’m saying that driving Chrysler’s equals sadness. I think Oliver Marchal might be saying that but not me. If you’re looking for a good time for love of God turn left before you get this movie, but if you’re looking for a well crafted, very grim, very dark and very effective crime thriller, ‘MR73’ is a good place to start.

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