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Garde à vue AKA The Inquisitor (1981) FotW #322

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Cocoa
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Garde à vue AKA The Inquisitor (1981) FotW #322

#1

Post by Cocoa » March 1st, 2020, 4:46 pm

Film of the Week #322: Garde à vue AKA The Inquisitor AKA Under Suspicion AKA The Grilling (1981)

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Summary:
A police inspector, suspecting an attorney of two child sex murders, has him held for a questioning session that goes on for hours.

#78 on 500<400, with 301 checks.
Nominated by blocho, filmbantha, joachimt, and xianjiro.
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From the 500<400 resultsShow
#78(⇩4, #74) Garde à vue (1981)
[The Inquisitor]

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Directed by: Claude Miller
(588.98 Pts, 16 Votes) , Top 1–10–50: 0–2–5
History: 787489314224574←308
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This movie fits the current Crime Challenge.



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mathiasa
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#2

Post by mathiasa » March 6th, 2020, 6:57 am

Just Finished. Fantastic masterpiece with great atmosphere and perfect restraint.The only thing that is a letdown are the
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two twists in the end. It’s highly unlikely, a lawyer would be a
victim of false confession. And the suicide of his wife I did not understand.
9.2/10 :banana:
Last edited by mathiasa on March 6th, 2020, 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#3

Post by xianjiro » March 6th, 2020, 8:49 am

Just finished. Over all interesting, well put together and engaging. It's really a "did he or didn't he" affair. And then the wife comes in and things get kind of wonky.
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For me, the wife's suicide is much easier to explain than the suspect's confession and why a serial pedophile/murderer (with a body in the boot) would go to the police complaining his car's been stolen. But then no one ever said criminals have to be smart.
Liked the acting and the set/costume design were convincing, but for me ultimately the writing went flat. Sort of reminds me of those thrillers a decade or so ago where writers just tried to see how many unimaginable plot twists they could not only think up but cram into a single film. Yes, this is more sedate than that and not sure it really feels like 1981 - no, it's not quite that modern but then again, given the ages of the characters, the location, it works well enough.

It's a bit unsettling and that's the point. I'm sure people would talk about it over drinks or dinner after watching it at the cinema: it would be kind of fun to debate with friends who like a good discussion. However, all that said, I'm only willing to go 8 out of 10 stars and mostly that's a bump just over 7.5 due to the acting and fairly convincing script. I will admit though that some viewers will be bored with this one: it might be you if you find a handful of actors talking for 84 minutes on a stage boring.

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#4

Post by blocho » March 6th, 2020, 4:14 pm

Very disappointed with this one. A cop movie with Lino Ventura is right up my alley, but this was oddly lifeless. It's really a movie about the incompetence of the French police, but I don't think that's what the filmmakers were going for. I think they were going for a slow-burn psychological thriller. And if so, I think they failed. Failed completely. I was bored and had trouble staying awake.

See Lumet's The Offence for a good movie with a similar set-up.

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#5

Post by cinephage » March 6th, 2020, 5:14 pm

blocho wrote:
March 6th, 2020, 4:14 pm
Very disappointed with this one. A cop movie with Lino Ventura is right up my alley, but this was oddly lifeless. It's really a movie about the incompetence of the French police, but I don't think that's what the filmmakers were going for. I think they were going for a slow-burn psychological thriller. And if so, I think they failed. Failed completely. I was bored and had trouble staying awake.

See Lumet's The Offence for a good movie with a similar set-up.
This is hardly a thriller... And it doesn't say anything about french police incompetence...
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This is really a film about a couple living together, out of social obligation, and hating each other's guts, deeply. So deeply one of them is easily ready to give up everything and go to jail for a crime he didn't commit, and so deeply the other one prefers suicide rather than go on living with him when he is released... The police investigation provides an outside look at them, offering an interlocutor whose forced conversation slowly reveals the hidden wounds and anguish of a seemingly honorable and brilliant man.
I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it, but your critic shows you missed the actual purpose of the film, possibly due to a flawed translation. The movie relies heavily on dialogues (some of Michel Audiard's best), so I'm wondering about the quality of the translation you had. This is a tricky text, which I myself wouldn't dare try to translate. Too many subleties, too many innuendos, too much sarcasm and tongue in cheek irony...

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#6

Post by mathiasa » March 6th, 2020, 5:20 pm

The Offence is a good movie but it doesn‘t come near. I don‘t see it as mainly a psycho-thriller, as such it would be indeed somewhat a failure. I think they aimed for a social thriller, rightly criticizing involuntary interrogations. But, as already explained, this isn’t the movies’ strength either. It works as an atmospheric noir thriller and intimate play with some ties to the legal thriller.

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#7

Post by blocho » March 6th, 2020, 5:55 pm

cinephage wrote:
March 6th, 2020, 5:14 pm
blocho wrote:
March 6th, 2020, 4:14 pm
Very disappointed with this one. A cop movie with Lino Ventura is right up my alley, but this was oddly lifeless. It's really a movie about the incompetence of the French police, but I don't think that's what the filmmakers were going for. I think they were going for a slow-burn psychological thriller. And if so, I think they failed. Failed completely. I was bored and had trouble staying awake.

See Lumet's The Offence for a good movie with a similar set-up.
This is hardly a thriller... And it doesn't say anything about french police incompetence...
SpoilerShow
This is really a film about a couple living together, out of social obligation, and hating each other's guts, deeply. So deeply one of them is easily ready to give up everything and go to jail for a crime he didn't commit, and so deeply the other one prefers suicide rather than go on living with him when he is released... The police investigation provides an outside look at them, offering an interlocutor whose forced conversation slowly reveals the hidden wounds and anguish of a seemingly honorable and brilliant man.
I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it, but your critic shows you missed the actual purpose of the film, possibly due to a flawed translation. The movie relies heavily on dialogues (some of Michel Audiard's best), so I'm wondering about the quality of the translation you had. This is a tricky text, which I myself wouldn't dare try to translate. Too many subleties, too many innuendos, too much sarcasm and tongue in cheek irony...
Based on what you say the movie is about, I agree that I must have had bad subtitles. Although I still think the police were incompetent.

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#8

Post by xianjiro » March 6th, 2020, 6:20 pm

I'd say the police were more "old fashioned" - wink.

Interesting though. There you have it folks: four pretty different views on the same film! I see validity in all the comments though I wonder if @blocho might have had too much expectation going in. While I used thriller in my comments above, I'd hardly call this a thriller.

Especially interesting are @cinephage's comments about translation, subtext, etc. If one had access to a "professional" translation - which I'm pretty confident I did - this came through on some level to me though I'd have to say acting easily contributed such impressions as much or more than the actual script.

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#9

Post by joachimt » March 7th, 2020, 9:16 am

I often enjoy movies with small settings and just a handful of characters, but with enough tension to keep me focused. This was no exception. Did have some issues with the plot though, as they were mentioned above already.

7-8ish, so let's make it 8.
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#10

Post by Cocoa » March 7th, 2020, 5:20 pm

I agree with a bunch of opinions already stated. The acting is fine, but it took some time for the story to get interesting for me. I didn't care for the ending at all.
SpoilerShow
The husband confesses to a crime (he didn't do) with the most likely explanation being to get away from his wife (who he disdains) who was framing him. The only other possible explanation is that he wanted to make the policeman look like a fool later on when it's proven he didn't do it... but that requires a great risk if he can't disprove it and the film already hints that he would have trouble tracking down witnesses to help prove his innocence.

Although it's not revealed yet to the audience that the husband didn't do it, but the film didn't give any hints that the wife was a reliable figure to believe or that the husband was unreliable, so there should be some doubt for the audience that he did the crime until he confesses. Common knowledge that people don't typically confess to crimes they don't commit because of prison time or worse. Usually when an innocent person confesses, it's not a situation similar to the portrayal in this film.

Then once the wife knows that her husband will get released and that her plot didn't work, she kills herself in order to not be with him and/or to not face the consequences of her lies. She'd rather die than to be with him is the obvious conclusion because starting in the middle of the film she has already given examples of her discomfort around him.

Of course, the car with the proof (of who actually did it) being right there in front of her while the policeman is also not too far away is such an unlikely scenario. The woman holding on to a dry cleaning ticket is such an unlikely scenario. The man owning two identical coats is an unlikely (not impossible) scenario. A woman lying about her husband committing a crime just so she can get rid of him is such an unlikely scenario. An innocent person confessing to doing the crime he didn't commit after he knows his wife is framing him is such an unlikely scenario. The film simply builds up unlikely situations and continuously adds more at the ending until the credit rolls.

One twist at the end would have been enough. But to have two back-to-back in the style they did with an obvious attempt to mislead the audience was too obnoxious for my taste.

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#11

Post by xianjiro » March 7th, 2020, 9:53 pm

I don't think we can discount the makers of the movie wanting to throw light on the subject of suspicion/accusation: when does the viewer believe the detective and when does this support flip? While given the time frame and location, I don't know that there was a strong anti-police sentiment say like you find a number of recent Indian (Bollywood) films where police and institutional corruption is being attacked. This isn't doing that, but it's interesting to note when people believe and don't believe the accused.

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#12

Post by Fergenaprido » March 31st, 2020, 4:48 pm

After reading all the comments here, decided to catch up on this one. Very glad I resisted temptation to view the spoilers, though. Just finished, and I must say it's been a while since a film held my attention so well, without me feeling the need to distract/occupy myself with my phone or look up tangential things on wikipedia.

Well-paced, well-acted, and I think the subtitles of the film I had were decent enough. The dialogue was definitely fast at times, though, so parts could have been left out for ease of reading.

I think I liked the ending. I"m now marginally more interested in seeking out the American remake I didn't even know existed; curious to see what Freeman and Hackman do with the material. Will also seek out The Offense as per blocho's recommendation.

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