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Top 10 French Detective movies with an unexpected ending

In which everyone is not who they seem.

As we know, the British are considered the classics of the detective genre with an unexpected denouement, but in the arsenal of French cinema there is something to oppose to competitors from Foggy Albion. Our new top ten includes detective stories and crime dramas with unexpected and even shocking outcomes, filmed in France.

10. Maigret tend un piège (1958)

10. Maigret tend un piège (1958)

Although the picture is based on the novel by Georges Simenon from a series of detective stories about Commissioner Maigret, it is still better to watch the film version, where the role of the legendary detective was played by the genius Jean Gabin. In the old Parisian Marais quarter, which escaped renovation in the 19th century and retained its medieval narrow streets, several brutal murders of young girls take place. Suspicion of the committed atrocities falls on a young and talented architect performed by Maurice Biro, but he has an iron alibi. However, Maigret seems to be something strange in the behavior of both the suspect and his entire family. As one might expect, the outcome will be completely unexpected.

9. Death of a Scoundrel / Mort d'un pourri (1977)

9. Death of a Scoundrel / Mort d’un pourri (1977)

The gloomy tone of the film by Georges Lautner, in this case, changed his characteristic light and humorous look, is explained by the fact that the script for this picture was written by Michel Audyard, who lost his son on the eve of the launch of the project. The cast of the film is decorated, in addition to Alain Delon, with the presence of two main beauties of the era – Mireille Dark and a very young Ornella Mutti. The main character, unexpectedly for himself, finds himself involved in serious corruption “showdowns” that cost the life of his friend-deputy. In memory of his friend, he undertakes to find the murderer and bring the scoundrels to clean water, especially since dishonest policemen are involved in the case. Moreover, as usual, the villain turns out to be the one from whom the suspicion was initially withdrawn by all means.

8. Prophet / Un prophète (2009)

8. Prophet / Un prophète (2009)

An ingenious film by Jacques Audyard, which has collected all possible prizes in France, including the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for best film. At the same time, in this case, we are not talking about a detective story in the literal sense, but, rather, about a criminal drama, during which the most unexpected turn is the reincarnation of the protagonist from a downtrodden youth who ended up in prison for a petty crime, into an all-powerful drug mafia leader. And the final scene of the release is worthy of inclusion in all textbooks of cinema.

7. Quai Orfevres, 36/36 quai des Orfèvres (2004)

7. Quai Orfevres, 36/36 quai des Orfèvres (2004)

Director and actor Olivier Marshal was a policeman at the beginning of his professional career, so all his detectives are as tough and believable as possible. His best film, starring Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu, shows the anti-bandit unit’s work in all sorts of unsightly details, including internal competition between departments. However, the plot of the film is devoted not only to a tough confrontation between bandits and the police, there is corruption, corrupt colleagues, and, most importantly, an unexpected and bloody denouement.

6. Fear over the city / Peur sur la ville (1975)

6. Fear over the city / Peur sur la ville (1975)

One of Henri Verney’s most memorable films contrasts Jean-Paul Belmondo’s cheerful and open commissioner to the cold-blooded maniac and serial killer Minos. To catch him, ZhPB not only has to chase the criminal over the sloping roofs of the Paris Opera, but also to involve in the case all the technical capabilities that the French police had at that time. It is the technique that will make it possible to rip the mask off the maniac who has long and successfully led the investigation by the nose.

5. Tendre poulet (1977)

5. Tendre poulet (1977)

Filmed in the second half of the 1970s, the detective combines the romantic story of the relationship between the heroes of Philip Noiret and Annie Girardot, while the investigator of them is the fairer sex. In parallel with the novel, during which she carefully tries to hide her occupation from her boyfriend, she has to investigate a series of murders of deputies, the perpetrator of which turns out to be a character, whom both the audience and the police begin to suspect only five minutes before the end of the film. Despite the intricate detective plot, Philippe de Broca’s film came out easy and even funny.

4. Time of the assassins / Voici le temps des assassins (1958)

4. Time of the assassins / Voici le temps des assassins (1958)

The main character, played by Jean Gabin, owns a popular restaurant in the main market in the center of Paris. For many years he has lived alone, and his favorite work takes up all his free time. Once a modest young girl appears at the door of the establishment, posing as the daughter of the restaurateur’s first wife, with whom he parted many, many years ago. The guest informs the restaurateur that her mother has died, and she no longer has anyone to go to. It would seem a touching scene of family happiness, but … It was from this moment that a criminal drama about love, intrigue and betrayal begins, which ends in an unexpected and bloody denouement.

3. Crimson rivers / Les rivières pourpres (2000)

3. Crimson rivers / Les rivières pourpres (2000)

The famous detective novel by Jean-Christophe Granger was masterfully transferred to the screen by Mathieu Kassowitz. The story is set in a small university town high in the Alpine mountains. It involves mysterious murders with a clear religious connotation. The case is entrusted to veteran veteran Niemans played by Jean Reno, who will be paired with a pugnacious newcomer played by Vincent Cassel. On the way to the truth, they will have to unravel a tangle of secrets and conflicts that have been dragging on for many decades, and at the end of the film they will face a ruthless killer. Which, as you might guess, turns out to be not at all what one could suspect.

2.Black stripe / Fleuve noir (2018)

2.Black stripe / Fleuve noir (2018)

The title of the film coincides with the name of the famous detective book series that has been published in France for many decades. At first, the ordinary disappearance of a teenager does not inspire much alarm in the police, because a boy from a dysfunctional family could well run away from home in search of a better life. But the heavily drinking investigator, played by Vincent Cassel, is slowly spinning the strings of the circumstances surrounding the “escape”, and every day he becomes more and more convinced that the fugitive is no longer alive. Everyone is under suspicion, from parents to a neighbor who for some reason is writing a detective novel based on the incident. However, the shocking ending will make you look at everything that happened from a completely different angle.

1. Under preliminary investigation / Garde à vue (1981)

1. Under preliminary investigation / Garde à vue (1981)

A great film, the action of which takes place in the police department, but which keeps the viewer in suspense until the very end. The inspector, played by Lino Ventura, is investigating the murder of a little girl whose body was found in the sand dunes by the sea. Moreover, this is not the first case in recent months. The suspect turns out to be a well-known local notary (Michel Cerro), during whose arrest the inspector’s colleagues slightly overdid it. Moreover, his wife (Romy Schneider) testifies against him, according to whom she has long noticed bad inclinations for him. And now, under the pressure of accusations, the arrested person confesses, but the series of murders continues … The tragic ending turned out to be very instructive.

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