Premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Salvadori’s original and highly entertaining film was a hit with festival-goers and critics alike. And it’s easy to see why. It’s rare to find a comedy that provides both laughs and pathos with a modicum of social commentary thrown in for good measure. This burlesque comedy cleverly weaves together love and hate with crime and passion in a captivating, intelligent mix. From the opening credits featuring a cartoon-like police raid to the sublime robbery scene, Salvadori stays just on the right side of silliness without teetering over into the surreal. That it all works beautifully is down mainly to the two lead actors – the versatile Adèle Haenel (Les Combattants, L’Homme qu’on aimait trop) and Pio Marmai (Ce que nous lie, Nos Futurs, Toute Première Fois, Maestro). Here Haenel displays a talent for comedy masked by previous dramatic roles. She’s sexy and smart and still endearlingly vulnerable, while Marmai proves adept at slapstick, physical comedy.
Yvonne (Haenel) is a young police officer mourning the death of her husband, Captain Santi, (Vincent Elbaz) a local hero who died in the course of duty. Her world is shattered when she disovers Santi was in fact corrupt and had wrongfully sent to prison a young man (Marmai) eight years previously. Determined to make amends, she becomes involved with Antoine – a decision which has drastic consequences for them both.
Salvadori matches the fast-paced action scenes with time for the characters to grow. Beautifully assisted by Damien Bonnard and Audrey Tautou – although in truth Tautou is woefully underused. Like many great comedies, Salvadori makes the audience laugh at situations that are not inherently funny – a innocent man sent to prison, a wife who discovers the man she loves is a rat, a serial killer who no-one takes seriously – to show that sometimes it does pay to be on the wrong side of the law.