The title of Bertrand Tavernier’s well-turned 146-minute French thriller (1992) refers to the article from the French Code of Public Health that forbids “all offenses linked to the possession, traffic, and consumption of narcotics.” Cowritten by former narcotics officer Michel Alexandre, this film takes a realistic approach, following the everyday routines and bureaucratic frustrations of a Parisian narc, well played by Didier Bezace. The character never quite says “It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it,” but this is the general idea, and with an able if not very well-known cast Tavernier makes an absorbing and authentic-looking movie out of it. More to the point, he implicates the audience in the sliminess of certain police operations in a way that has challenging and potent political ramifications–which is probably why this movie has been assailed by both the left and the right in France. See it and make up your own mind. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, January 27, 7:45; Saturday, January 28, 6:00 and 8:30; and Sunday, January 29, 6:00; 443-3737.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Still.