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Garde à vue is a 1981 French drama directed by Claude Miller, starring Lino Ventura, Michel Serrault, and Romy Schneider.

On New Year's Eve, Martinaud (Serrault), a notary, is interrogated by Inspector Gallien (Ventura) on the rape and murder of two young girls, presumably as a witness until Martineau is informed that he's under suspicion. During the whole night, both his alibis for the murders and his private life are put under scrutiny.

The film was remade in the U.S. in 2000 as Under Suspicion, starring Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and Monica Bellucci.


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Tropes:

  • Accuse the Witness: Martinaud's inconclusive testimony, his being present near the two crime scenes and anonymous tips from the town citizens lead the police to suspect him.
    Gallien: There's been a shift: from witness, you became a suspect. I'm sure this didn't escape your notice.
    Martinaud: Not really, but the reason for the shift did.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: To be expected. One example destroys Martinaud's first alibi when Gallien repeatedly asks him if he heard anything when he was on a beach.
    • Martinaud tries one at the end of the movie when he asks Gallien whether he would have called Camille to the witness stand. Gallien dodges it.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: It's unclear for Gallien and the viewers if Martinaud is this because he has something to hide or simply because he gets frustrated with the inspectors, one of whom interrogated his sister just before she went to surgery.
  • Berserk Button: Martinaud antagonizes Belmont early on, but the latter (who already considered Martinaud as the culprit) gets violent after Martinaud corrects him on a specific point regarding the crimes.
    Martinaud:If you ask me if I raped and killed them, my answer is no. But if you ask me if I killed then raped them...
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Both Martinauds according to each other.
    Chantal: Martinaud is horrible when he stops being Mr Martinaud, Esq. Horrible.
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    • Also invoked by Martinaud about Gallien.
    Martinaud: In retrospect, I prefer Belmont. There is two kind of cops, the hot-blooded ones and the devious ones. You're a devious one.
  • Break Them by Talking: Gallien's approach, with varying success.
  • Big Secret: Unfortunately for Martinaud, his wife is his Secret Keeper.
    Chantal: Today, he's scared because he is the kind of man who hopes things will get better if you don't talk about it. He's right.
    Gallien: To hope?
    Chantal: To be scared.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Gallien.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The man who adresses a complaint about his stolen car.
  • Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: When Gallien finds holes in one of Martinaud's alibis, the lattersays he was in fact with a prostitute who can't be tracked down because the affair went down in her car.
  • Downer Ending: Although the real murderer is discovered, Martinaud has already been broken and pushed to give a False Confession, Belmont's and Gallien's careers are likely ruined and Chantal kills herself. Happy New Year!
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Belmont's joke about the rapist/murderer being able to have an erection during a cold weather is welcomed by a fake laugh from Martinaud and a Disapproving Look from Gallien.
    • Also invoked by Gallien when Martinaud suggests he amuses the cop: Gallien counters that as long as he thinks Martinaud is guilty of the murder and rape of two girls, there is no chance he will.
  • Exiled to the Couch: The Martinaud live in different rooms separated by a 15 meters-long corridor.
    Martinaud:The Children room remained empty, the guest room became my wife's and our room became mine.
  • Exasperated Perp: Martinaud, who alternates between sarcasm and outright insults.
  • Femme Fatale: Mrs Martinaud seems to invoke that trope, willfully staying in the dark, dressed in black and sharing a cigarette with Gallien.
  • Foreshadowing: "How well can a 50 year-old man know an 8 year-old girl?"
  • Gallows Humor: Martinaud, increasingly. When he asks permission to open his wrists, he claims he's not sure if he's still joking.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Rather casually discussed. Seeing a party next door, Martinaud muses that this kind of event is the occasion for the ladies to kiss their lovers and introduce them to their husbands.
    • Martinaud suggests that Chantal and his sister may not see eyes-to eyes because his wife had an affair (or wished she had) with her sister-in-law's husband. He eventually confesses he frequents hookers because, unlike his wife, they give a lot for little money.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: According to Martinaud, the population of the town envies his life because of this: they can accept it for a superior intellect but not for a man as average as they are. Possibly Chantal regarding her husband's relation with Camille.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Why Chantal became Mrs Martinaud, "fulfilling the fantasy of a whole generation of well-educated sluts" in her own words.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Averted, and pointless. Gallien encourages Martinaud to call a lawyer but reminds him that he cannot be present during the "garde à vue".
  • Pædo Hunt: The motivation for both Gallien and Belmont to get a confession from Martinaud.
  • Perp Sweating: The whole point of the movie.
  • Police Brutality: Belmont, who closes the blinds before working on Martinaud, starting slowly by nagging him before he punches and throws the suspect around. Belmont ends up calling his colleagues on their hypocrisy when they give him dirty looks.
    Martinaud: Now let's hope I'm guilty. Hitting the sadist, that can be put under the rug, but if I didn't do it, the sadists are on the other side.
  • Stepford Snarker: Martinaud.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: The Flashback to the Christmas Eve that sealed the split between the Martinaud.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Invoked by Martinaud himself and deconstructed during the movie: The Martinaud couple dissolved pretty quickly after or during the honeymoon.

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