Pierre Gauthier

Created by Luc Dionne

Okay, so he's not a private eye, but PIERRE GAUTHIER qualifies at least as such as Laurent Vaillancourt who already has an entry here, and he sure contributed more to the crime fiction genre in Québec than any other character created in recent years.

Gauthier was the main character and hero of the Québec TV series Omertà: La Loi du Silence, created by Luc Dionne, which ran for three seasons from 1996 to 1999. It was a huge success in Québec and probably the most successful crime drama in Québec's television history (which at the time had not created many crime dramas).

When we are introduced to Gauthier (played by local star and veteran actor Michel Côté), he's a cop from the Sûreté Nationale, a thinly disguised Sûreté du Québec (Why the SQ name was changed for the show remains unclear; other law enforcement agencies make appearances in the series and keep their name).

Gauthier is a tough cop who has no problem bending the rules to get the job done. He's divorced, with an ex-wife and his daughter living in the US. We don't know much about his background apart from that. Formerly in the Narcotics unit, he's been recently reassigned to the Organised Crime Unit, at the request of its head, Gilbert Tanguay, an officer who like Gauthier believes that the ends justifies the means.

Tanguay is obsessed with bringing down Giuseppe Scarfo, the head of the Italian mob in Montréal. Gauthier and Tanguay get along fine and things are doing well, until Gauthier discovers that his new girlfriend, Gabrielle, is actually Scarfo's daughter. Before the Bernier-Couillard scandal (where it was revealed that the girlfriend of Canadian Foreign Afaairs Minister Maxime Bernier was dating a woman with connections to bikers and organized crime), it may have seemed pretty far-fetched, but it certainly made for very good drama. By the end of the first season, things sort of worked out, with Scarfo conveniently murdered before he could be sent to jail for smuggling cocaine and Gabrielle splitting for the Carribean, leaving Gauthier in the lurch.

The second season kicked off with the reappearance of Gabrielle, toting along Gauthier's infant daughter. Gauthier, meanwhile, is investigating the murder of an undercover cop, who'd been looking into the ties between a rock star and a criminal biker gang that had been serving as his security (while secretly attempting to gain control of the musician's finances in a money laundering operation -- a scheme with possible ties to CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service). While this is going on, the new head of the Scarfo family attempts to frame Gabrielle for drug trafficking, and Internal Affairs is looking very hard at Gauthier. It all comes to a head when Gabrielle is killed by a sniper and an angry Gauthier resigns from the SN, using the fortune he inherited from her to go on a personal vendetta to avenge her murder, although he is not quite sure who's responsible for her assassination.

Season three shifts gears, going back in time to focus (at least at first) on made-man "Nicky" Balsamo; the first half of the season thus serving as a prequel to the series. Gauthier finally reappears mid-season, captured by the RCMP and offered a deal: help bring down the Scarfo family or be charged for the crimes he committed while trying to avenge Gabrielle. The last season was not as interesting as the previous ones, but it had a few great moments and was still enjoyable.

Omertà became one of the most acclaimed, each season winning the Gemini (the Canadian equivalent of the Emmys) for Best Drama Series, and was extremely popular both in Canada and internationally, despite being limited to French-speaking markets. It was so successful that an English series was soon planned. Unfortunately, those plans were shelved when HBO launched The Sopranos, which paralleled Omerta on many levels.

Michel Côté had many other successes after Omertà, including his role as a working class, Aznavour-loving father in the acclaimed movie C.R.A.Z.Y., but writer Luc Dionne never managed to write anything quite as good or as popular, although The Last Chapter, an 2002 bilingual multi-part drama which dealth with the increasingly violent rivalry between Québec and Ontario bikers gangs was pretty good.

Rumours abounded that Dionne was busy writing ar a fourth season of Omertà, but it never materialized.

In 2012, however, a feature film surfaced, based on the series and scripted by Dionne. titled simply Omertà. It found Gauthier actually working as a private eye, heading up Pulsar International, a high-level private security agency.

But the old life keeps calling, and he's summoned by his former boss, Gilbert Tanguay, who wants to hire him to investigate a local restauranteur suspected of laundering money for the mob. But Gauthier and his undercover operative, Sophie (Rachelle Lefevre), soon uncover an ambitious scheme by the Montréal mob to rip off the entire North American banking system.

TRIVIA

  • In 2008, actor Tony Conte, who played suave mobster Vincenzo Spadollini in the series, was arrested for drug trafficking charges, in a police sting operation targeting a drug cartel planning to import massive quantities of cocaine to Canada.

  • René Angélil, best known as the husband and manager of singer Céline Dion, played Fagazi, the head of the mob in the Omerta movie, and despite the lack of acrting experience, supposedly gave a more than credible performance.

TELEVISION

  • OMERTÀ: LA LOI DU SILENCE...Buy this DVD
    (aka "Omertà, The Code of Silence"
    (January-April 1996, Radio-Canada)
    11 episodes
    Written by Luc Dionne
    Starring Michel Côté as PIERRE GAUTHIER
    and Luc Picard as François Pelletier
    Also starring Dino Tavarone, Brigitte Paquette, Michel Dumont, Claude Blanchard, Sophie Lorain, Claude Michaud, Vittorio Rossi, Serge Thériault, Sylvie Legault, Frank Schorpion, Deano Clavet
  • OMERTÀ 2: LA LOI DU SILENCE...Buy this DVD
    (aka "Omertà, The Code of Silence"
    (September-December 1997, Radio-Canada)
    14 episodes
    Written by Luc Dionne
    Starring Michel Côté as PIERRE GAUTHIER
    and Luc Picard as François Pelletier
    Also starring Ron Lea, Michel Dumont, Brigitte Paquette, Sophie Lorain, David Lahaye, Marc Messier, Claude Michaud, Sylvie Legault, Vittorio Rossi, Claude Maher, Sylvain Massé, Germain Houde, Claude Blanchard
  • OMERTÀ 3: LE DERNIER DES HOMMES D'HONNEUR...Buy this DVD
    (aka "Omertà: The Last Men of Honour"
    (January-April 1999, Radio-Canada)
    13 episodes
    Written by Luc Dionne
    Starring Romano Orzari as Nicola ´Nickyª Balsamo
    and Michel Côté as PIERRE GAUTHIER
    Also starring Geneviève Rochette, Ron Lea, Paolo Noël, Tony De Santis, Dino Tavarone, Vittorio Rossi, Richard Robitaille, Claude Blanchard, Germain Houde, Roberto Medile

FILM

  • OMERTÀ...Buy this DVD
    (2012, Cinémaginaire Inc.)
    Written and directed by Luc Dionne
    Starring Michel Côté as PIERRE GAUTHIER
    and Rachelle Lefevre as Sophie
    Also starring Patrick Huard, Stéphane Rousseau, René Angelil, Michel Dumont, Gilbert Tanguay, Paolo Noël, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxime Denommé, Andreas Apergis, Alan Fawcett,Thai-Hoa Le, Sean Lu

RELATED LINKS

A listing of Montréal eyes.

Report respectfully submitted by Guilluame Bergeron, with additional information supplied by Kevin Burton Smith.

Remember, your comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions are always welcome.
At the tone, leave your name and number and I'll get back to you...