Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19
  1. More than on "Prime Suspect," more than any film in recent memory, Le Petit Lieutenant conveys the relentless toll of big-city police work.
  2. Nathalie Baye is remarkable in Le Petit Lieutenant where she plays Caroline Vaudieu, a Parisian police inspector who returns to her post after a bout with alcoholism following her child's death.
  3. A quiet powerhouse of a film, an implacable, uncompromising French police drama, both old-fashioned and modern, that underlines the reasons impeccably made crime stories do so well on screen.
  4. 80
    A flinty, almost hardhearted work about characters who have lost almost everything in pursuit of some undefinable abstraction, like honor or their country or doing the right thing. It's an impressive film, but don't expect any warm fuzzies.
  5. Le Petit Lieutenant embraces the spectrum of human drama and comedy, and like a lot of French films it is keenly involved with the everyday pulse of work.
  6. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    The final minute of the movie is one of the most bleak, and moving, endings I've seen in years.
  7. This is the fourth film directed and at least co-written by Beauvois. (He has acted in a number of pictures, including a previous one of his own, and he is in Le Petit Lieutenant for a while.) He is a clean and sure director, with a good selective eye: he knows where we ought to be looking at any moment. We can hope for more Beauvois films with worlds of their own.
  8. A fine, taut, tough example of the realistic police drama.
  9. On the surface, Le Petit Lieutenant is propelled by the search for two Russians somehow responsible for a pair of murders along the Seine. And though that's a pretty mundane setup for an urban drama, it serves nicely in allowing us to get to know the haunted Caroline and the impetuous Antoine.
  10. The drama's moments of cinematic power more than compensate for the slow-moving stretches that don't connect, and its characters will stay with viewers long after the lights go up.
  11. 70
    Light on visceral thrills and heavy on the quotidian rhythms of life on the force, Xavier Beauvois' police procedural owes more to "Prime Suspect" and "Hill Street Blues" than it does to any film genre.
  12. Le Petit Lieutenant shows how good French movies can be when they stay French and don't try to go international.
  13. 70
    The movie's realism is unimpeachable, though American cops might be stunned by the idea of a half-dozen detectives being assigned to the murder of an anonymous floater.
  14. 67
    In the end, the film belongs to Baye, a veteran French actress who handles the part with toughness and vulnerability without overselling either facet of her character.
  15. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    The only thing that enlivens Beauvois' anti-thriller is Baye's beautiful performance.
  16. Reviewed by: Leighton Klein
    You can sense Baye's struggling within the limits imposed on her. In her own way, she can convey the heat of a Penelope Cruz, the power of Mirren, the barely contained madness of Judi Dench -- but not here. They're just not on the beat she's been given.
  17. Beauvois, who co-wrote, seems hellbent on making the most realistic cop film of all time, shruggingly consumed with downtime, small talk, minor incident, and dead ends, and he's succeeded--the narrative wouldn't have cut it in a Kojak story meeting.
  18. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    Seems so determined to reproduce the drudgery of police work, it's boring for the first hour, and only marginally more exciting for the second.
  19. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Keeps such a lazy pace, with so many scenes that fail to move the story forward, that it should be cited for failing to meet the minimum speed for a crime drama.

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