Saturday 8 March 2014

Garde à Vue (The Grilling) [1981]

Garde à Vue is one of those unfortunate films that, despite being a smart, moody, edgy and gripping thriller, got lost somewhere down the line perhaps for not being cerebral enough. The edge-of-the-seat police procedural focussed on one unrelenting interrogation session between the police investigator and the accused that kept brilliantly and progressively upping the level of intensity and strain through its tightly paced length, and that made the physical and emotional drainage of the characters highly effective. Jerome Martinaud (Michel Serrault), a wealthy and suave attorney, is the prime suspect, albeit only circumstantially, for the grisly rape and murder of 2 girls; Inspector Gallien (Lino Venura), a jaded, dour and experienced cop, is investigating the brutal double crime, with the tough, crass and unsubtle Inspector Marcel (Guy Marchand) as his aide. The interrogation, being held on a Christmas Eve, begins normally, but as it progresses, ugly skeletons start emerging from Jerome’s closet in the form of his marriage with his sultry blonde wife (Romy Schneider) that went gone cold many years back, courtesy relentless questioning and usage of various pressure tactics by the wily Gallien. Marcel, however, prefers fists over brains, and is roaring to pounce on the increasingly cornered pray. The script, based on the novel Brainwash, grabbed me by the collars, despite not being watertight, through its terrific pacing, exploration of disconcerting motifs and hardboiled dialogues. However, what really stood out were the string of terrific turns by the canny but worn-out Ventura, the unreliable and troubled Serrault, and the sadistic and artless Marchand, with the ravishing Schneider in a cameo.

Director: Claude Miller
Genre: Thriller/Psychological Thriller/Crime Thriller/Mystery/Post-Noir
Language: French
Country: France

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