They call me MR 73.
Olivier Marchal’s MR 73 is one of those great foreign films that will never find an audience - at least not in North America. This dazzling French policier didn't receive a theatrical release for the simple reason that it's just too hard boiled for our soft and fuzzy taste in films and that's too bad because MR 73 is the film Michael Mann's been trying to do for 25 years.
The plot is based on a true story and the resulting script is complex and riveting. Daniel Auteuil plays a tough cop racked with guilt and living in an inebriated free fall into the depths of hell. He's never been better and this is THE acting performance of 2008. Forget Mickey Rourke. Forget Sean Penn. Auteuil is simply stunning. Couple that with the grittiest, blackest colour cinematography I've ever seen and what you have is an unheralded piece of modern film making that only a handful of people will ever see, much less appreciate.
I love filmmakers that take chances and aren't afraid to push viewers into really uncomfortable places. MR 73 is one of those rare films. It manages to maintain incredibly dark and atmospheric overtones that add a very distinctive flavor to the film without resorting to the grotesque (granted, there are a couple of exceptions). Auteuil's Louis is a completely broken man who downs endless bottles of cheap scotch to dull the pain enough to get through another day. I was reminded of Eastwood's Unforgiven, a film that MR 73 shares more than a few existential similarities to. Marchal, cinematographer Denis Rouden and Auteuil (along with a stellar supporting cast) have created a nearly perfect modern distillation of film noir.
As you can likely tell, I really liked this one. Director Marchal, obviously a numbers guy, also directed Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu in 36, a terrific film from 2004 but I think he might have upped the ante with this one.