*½/**** Image B Sound B Extras (see review)
starring Gérard Depardieu, Guillaume Canet, Ines Sastre, André Dussolier
screenplay by Jean-Claude Grange
directed by Pitof
by Bill Chambers Bona fide criminologist Eugene Francois Vidocq has been the subject of several films, including Douglas Sirk's little-known A Scandal in Paris. What makes him ripe for mythologizing is his pre-detective career as a thief: he'd learned the streets so well as one of their own that he knew which rocks to turn over in his police work. Among his achievements as a purported inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, master-of-disguise Vidocq pioneered the science of ballistics and founded the first detective agency. Little biographical detail finds its way into Francophone director Pitof's anti-biopic Vidocq, but a cursory knowledge of the gumshoe's legacy can't hurt. You may otherwise find yourself doubting the layout of Vidocq's office--which suggests Sam Spade's circa 1830--or his talent for slipping in and out of corners unnoticed, even though he's portrayed by the unmistakable Gérard Depardieu.