Friday, July 25, 2008

Ne le dis à personne

France, 2006, directed by Guillaume Canet

It's tempting to read Guillaume Canet's film as the revenge of the provinces on those who've constructed their settled adult existences in Paris - you can't, as it were, escape your origins even if you leave them far behind. The film begins with the disappearance and apparent death of a young woman, whose husband (a paediatrician, played by François Cluzet) is left to pick up the pieces of his life. However, events quickly throw that (only marginally successful) effort entirely off balance, in a manner that initially implies one of those vast international conspiracies so beloved of the movie world. It's bracing, then, to see the tentacles of the French country bourgeoisie, rather than a Jason Bourne-esque rogue agency, emerge from the shadows, and the revelations come thick and fast in the film's finale, with versions of the truth piling up on each other.

The film is based on an (American) crime novel by Harlan Coben, and like Claude Chabrol or Pedro Almodóvar's adaptations of the English writer Ruth Rendell, the raw materials are embroidered with layers of local material that result in an invigorating hybrid. Canet takes the adrenaline-filled aspects of the original book and grounds his film in a specific and carefully-constructed French reality, albeit a reality peopled with a tremendous cast of actors (in addition to Cluzet, the credits include Kristin Scott-Thomas, André Dussollier, Nathalie Baye, Jean Rochefort and Canet himself in a small role). The director moves things along swiftly - swiftly enough that you're unlikely to question some of the plot's larger holes too closely while enjoying the ride - and with an unexpected vein of black humour, particularly in the sequences where Cluzet's character makes use of the services of a member of the Parisian underworld (Gilles Lellouche, hijacking the middle of the movie), whose young son he has treated. Cluzet, an actor whose low-key style is easy to overlook - his co-stars in films like Chabrol's L'Enfer or Assayas's Fin août, début septembre always seem to grab more of the attention - makes an entirely convincing transformation into a man of action, in the mould of another doctor trying to solve the mystery of his wife's death, Dr Richard Kimble of The Fugitive.

No comments:


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States