The Crimson RiversSeptember 27, 2000
Parisian murder detective commissioner Pierre Niemans is called to Gueron, a self-sufficient, prestigious university in a mountain valley…
Release Year: 2000
Rating: 6.8/10 (24,884 voted)
Critic's Score: 49/100
Stars: Jean Reno, Vincent Cassel, Nadia Farès
Parisian murder detective commissioner Pierre Niemans is called to Gueron, a self-sufficient, prestigious university in a mountain valley, to investigate the murder on 32-year old professor and librarian Rémy Caillois, whose corps was found 50 meters high on a steep mountain side, naked, horribly covered in bruises and bleeding wounds, the result of some five hours of bestial torture including quasi-surgical amputation of hands cauterized to prevent bleeding to death- and eyes. Guernon is a closed society of virtually incestuous scientists, de facto succeeding to their parents' posts; the eye-doctor, formerly on the staff, says hereditary genetic diseases are the price of such elitism, but in recent years spread to the simple farming families. Inspector Max Kerkerian examines two crimes in the town: a school break-in with theft of old photos and archive papers as well as a graveyard desecration of Judith Herault…
Writers: Jean-Christophe Grangé, Jean-Christophe Grangé
(as Nadia Fares)
Dr. Bernard Chernezé
Man at Petrol Station
Hubert, the Dean's Son
Sarzac Policeman #1
Evil rises to new heights.
Release Date: 27 September 2000
Filming Locations: Albertville, Savoie, France
Box Office Details
Budget: FRF 95,000,000
Opening Weekend: $31,734
(1 July 2001)
(18 February 2001)
Did You Know?
as the hooded killer who shoots at Jean Reno at the bottom of the stairwell in the house on stilts. His voice is also heard over the CB radio talking to Vincent Cassel.
Crew or equipment visible:
A cameraman is reflected on a glossy tombstone during the tracking shot when Max Kerkerian visits the cemetery in Sarzac for the first time.
We'll touch base in two hours.
Wich way do we go?
There. Okay? See you later, guys.
[looks at Niemans]
Can I help you?
Got a light?
Who let you through?
Your men. Commissioner Pierre Niemans.
A highly successful French thriller by Mathieu Kassovitz…
…who is famous for his intelligent films about social issues;
such as 'La
Haine'. The suspenseful story, IMO often wrongfully compared to David
Fincher's 'Se7en' because of its seemingly similar thematic elements, is
in the French Alps, in the fictitious towns of Guernon and Sarzac. The
marvellous scenery contributes a lot to the overall mysterious atmosphere
the film and is an ideal background for the movie's convincing cast. This
especially true for the leading roles which are portrayed by two of the
talented French actors: Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel.
The plot is based on a novel by Jean-Christophe Grange who, together with
director Mathieu Kassovitz, also developed the screenplay. With the book
being quite complicated due to its many carefully intertwined lines of
action, a lot had to be simplified, altered or simply cut out, a
issue with adaptations. Unfortunately, many of the novel's explanatory
scenes were omitted, so that ,you end up with a film which is not boring
quite confusing', as main actor Vincent Cassel puts it correctly. The
following is a basic plot summary that intends to spoil as little of the
story as possible:
Commissaire Pierre Niemans is called to the remote university town of
Guernon to solve a gruesome murder case in which the victim – the
university's librarian – was brutally tortured and mutilated. Neither the
university officials nor the students prove to be too helpful during the
investigation and Niemans soon gets the impression that there is something
very suspicious about the whole situation. Meanwhile, Commissaire Max
Kerkerian investigates the desecration of a grave in Sarzac. Soon it turns
out that the seemingly unrelated cases are strangely connected with each
other and, after a second corpse is found, the two very unlike cops team
to discover a long kept secret. This knowledge eventually gets them into
life-threatening situations, the most deadly of them marking the end of
movie, which is set on top of a huge, snow-covered glacier.
The acting is simply excellent: Jean Reno portrays Niemans as a surly,
reserved but brilliant professional with an attitude that often offends
people around him, even if he does not mean to. Vincent Cassel is Max
Kerkerian, a quite lively character, sharp-witted but at times lacking
self-control and totally unconventional in his methods (the book even
mentions him being a former car-thief). The third leading role, Fanny
Ferreira, a glaciologist working at the university and the one to find the
first corpse, is portrayed by Nadia Farés. Her enigmatic character is more
involved in the mystery than it seems.
The action is greatly enhanced by the spectacular panoramic views and
trails used for the location shooting, even though the opening scene,
the camera follows Niemans' car as it approaches the first crime scene, is
obviously a rip-off of Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'. One scene shows
Niemans and Ferreira, the scientist, descending a glacier, a dangerous
for which huge cranes had to be transported to the glacier in order to
secure the actors. The wonderful score was composed by Bruno Coulais, who
managed to provide each scene with the appropriate musical
As stated before, major changes were necessary to transfer the complex
onto the screen. The outcome was that many viewers felt puzzled by the
movie's abrupt, confusing and seemingly illogical ending, as much is left
out in the film where the book provides extensive background information.
This is where the movie's biggest flaw lies. Other alterations include the
renaming of Karim Abdouf (novel) to Max Kerkerian (film). While his
characteristics remained more or less the same, it was the author's
intention to include a police officer of Algerian origin in the story. The
characters in general are darker in the novel where Niemans even kills a
hooligan before the actual story begins. The conspiracy revealed by the
is larger and was also one of the aspects which were simplified for the
All in all, one could complain that some of the action scenes look rather
out of place, like Kerkerian's fight with two skinheads or the obligatory
car chase later on in the film. The 'mismatched-cop scenario' is not too
innovative either, but since it is depicted in such a unique way, it would
be unfair to dismiss it as a cliché. While I can only reiterate that it
be difficult to completely grasp the movie at once, it is not at all
impossible to follow the storyline as some have claimed. ,The Crimson
Rivers' is definitely a great movie in its genre, featuring spectacular
camera shots and an excellent cast and is in this vein well worth a