Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq (2001)

Genres - Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film, Gothic Film, Period Film, Whodunit  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - France   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Synopsis by Mark Deming

Vidocq (1775-1857) was a noted French detective who was one of the great trailblazers of modern criminal investigation; he's been credited with establishing the first private investigation firm, and pioneered a number of scientific techniques that are still being used today. Vidocq was also a master of disguise and a former thief with no small sense of adventure, and his exploits have been fodder for a number of novels, plays, and motion pictures in France; Vidocq is a high-tech retooling of his legend that employs cutting-edge digital technology to bring a new visual dazzle to his story. Vidocq (Gerard Depardieu) dies an unexpected death while battling his arch-nemesis the Alchemist, and Boisset (Guillaume Canet), an opportunistic journalist, sets out to write his life story, convincing Nimier (Moussa Maaskri), Vidocq's partner, that he had made arrangements with the great man himself to collaborate on such a book before his death. Boisset begins interviewing Vidocq's cohorts, but it seems someone is following the reporter, as his interview subjects have a habit of dying sudden and violent deaths shortly after sharing their stories. As it turns out, the deaths are tied into a case Vidocq investigated, in which a number of people were killed by lightning -- lightning that was conjured up by none other than the Alchemist. Shot on high-definition digital video equipment to allow special effects artists greater latitude to manipulate the images, Vidocq also features Ines Sastre, Andre Dussollier, and Edith Scob.