Détective (1985)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Ensemble Film, Psychological Drama, Urban Drama, Crime Drama  |   Release Date - May 10, 1985 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - France   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Buening

Détective is a funny, nonsensical, sometimes captivating, sometimes maddening film noir homage. In a 1985 interview with Katherine Dieckmann director Jean-Luc Godard said, "That's why we went over budget with Hail Mary and had to stop and shoot Détective to make some money...I didn't want to make Détective at all, though I don't mind it now that I've done it." The movie is rushed and careless in a manner corresponding to Godard's confession, but it also has an energy and humor characteristic of his early work. It's reminiscent of Howard Hawks' explanation of his scattered-brained The Big Sleep, "the scenario took eight days to write, and all we were hoping to do was make every scene entertain." The plot, such as it is, has a hotel detective, his undercover nephew (a goofy high energy Jean-Pierre Leaud), and his girlfriend investigating a murder while moving incongruously towards another series of shootings. The hotel is filled with a variety of stock characters including Johnny Halliday as a heavily indebted boxing manager, his boxer Tiger Jones who shadowboxes while yelling "I will KO Tiger Jones," Nathalie Baye as his former lover, mobsters, and their children. The narrative is deliberately impossible to follow, mirroring the mindset of the characters and the detectives (as audience) nervously fumbling towards a cockeyed concept of truth.