is a French supernatural thriller from 2001, featuring Gérard Depardieu
as the title character.
1830. As the July Revolution looms in the horizon, private detective Vidocq (the very first one in France) disappears while searching a masked killer named The Alchemist. His biographer Etienne Boisset then starts tracking his movements, while The Alchemist tracks his.
This film has the examples of:
- Badass Cape: The Alchemist's hooded cape is so badass that physics are barely a suggestion to it.
- Character Title
- Genius Bruiser: Vidocq. Large, strong, surprisingly fast, manages to hold his own in fights against supernaturally-empowered foe, has a crime lab Batman would be proud of had he lived in the 1830's, and is the father of modern criminal science.
- Historical-Domain Character: Vidocq again.
- Immortality Immorality: The Alchemist's mask grants him immortality and eternal youth by storing and slowly draining the souls of people who died staring into his mask. Said mask must be tempered in the blood of about 100 virgins as part of its construction and periodic reforging.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Happens quite literally to Vidocq's partner Nimier in the climactic fight. He shoots the Alchemist in the face with his shot pistol - cue the Alchemist's mask absorbing the shot balls like it was made from mercury, then sending them back out in the opposite direction as fast as they were going, resulting in Nimier catching the full brunt of the blast in the chest and dying soon afterwards.
- In the Hood: The Alchemist wears a black hood over his mirrored mask.
- The Killer In Me: It turns out that Etienne is the Alchemist himself, who tries to find and eliminate all clues leading to him that Vidocq left.
- Mask of Power: The Alchemist's mask is made out of mirror that he uses to eat the souls of his victims. For extra creepiness, it also makes the victim see their own dying face while looking at him.
- Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: Subverted. Vidocq's lover Preah is an entertainer whose act is about passing herself off as an exotic southeast asian dancer, but she's actually a frenchwoman. It's implied they're together because he saw the real her through the disguise.
- Offscreen Teleportation: The Alchemist not only teleports offscreen but also manages to change his position in absolutely impossible movements. However, this is consistent with the villain's impossible nature, who even manages to have two left arms in one scene.
- Really 700 Years Old: The Alchemist seems to have haunted Paris since The Middle Ages. And he still looks like a young man.
- Reformed Criminal: Vidocq was this, both in the film and in Real Life.
- The Reveal: Vidocq has been Faking the Dead to trap the Alchemist, who turns out to be Etienne.
- Serial Killer: The Alchemist.
- Posthumous Character: Vidocq himself.
- Scooby-Doo Hoax: Played with. At first it seems that the murders are this, but then it turns out that the Alchemist really is a supernatural killer.
- Soft Glass: Made into a subtle hint of future plot development, as the Alchemist (a walking defiance of physics) jumps through a large window and several stories to the ground, walking away unharmed. Later on, Etienne does the same thing.
- Virgin Sacrifice: The Alchemist requires the blood of young female virgins to keep the mask that gives him his powers on the mend. The details are unclear, but one escaped subject seemed to have had her tongue cut out, and his laboratory contained mutilated human remains and rags that may have started out as human skins.
- Your Soul Is Mine: The Alchemist devours the souls of his victims through his mirrored mask to maintain his immortality.