Fly-on-the-wall portrait of colourful Brussels examining magistrate Anne Gruwez. While she masterfully grills a steady procession of small and large criminals, her unfiltered opinions and disarming humour accompany this raw insight into the Belgian justice system. The cold case investigation into the murder of two prostitutes gives the film its backbone.
‘The examining magistrate is the most important person in the country,’ Anne Gruwez quotes Napoleon. When you see her driving her little old Deux Chevaux trough Brussels, a grand general may not be your first association. But she sure has the confidence for it.
‘That’s fantastic!’ she yells when a deposition of a prostitute turns into an in-depth conversation about the preferences of men who hire S&M mistresses. But when most defendants sit down across Gruwez in her small office, they better listen up. She warns a recidivist whom she is willing to give one more chance: ‘If you betray me, I swear the wrath of Allah will be nothing compared to mine.’ She listens in silence, however, when taking down the harrowing statement of a mother who killed her 8-year-old son after thinking he was a child of the devil. With each scene it becomes clearer that behind Gruwez’ gallows humour and bravado, there is a very sharp mind, a genuine hunger for truth and a deep humanity. And she likes cake, too.