Directed by Jacques Audiard. Written by Audiard and Alain Le Henry, based
on the novel by Jean-Francois Deniau. Cinematography by Jean-Marc Fabre.
Production design by Michel Vandestien. Music Producer, Hal Willner.
Starring Mathieu Kassovitz (Albert Dehousse), Anouk Grinberg (Servane),
Sandrine Kiberlain (Yvette), Albert Dupontel (Dionnet) and a special
appearance by Jean-Louis Tringtignant (the narrator).
This is the best French film here. A young man who poses as someone more
adventurous, superior, in all ways better than himself and little by little
he becomes that someone else, not because he directly lies to people, but
because they make assumptions based upon his discreetly saying nothing when
they accord him acts of heroism.
Now if this isn't just the film for the Cannes festival, I don't know what
is. Half the people out here don't know who they are, are pretending to be
somebody they're not, and a damn good number of them have succeeded wildly!
I say this is a blueprint for getting in the movie business.
What it's really about is being young in France. Our hero Albert is played
by one of France's biggest and most rebellious heart-throbs, and he plays
the role like a very nice guy who awakens our need to protect him. Albert
is not required to fight in WWII, because he is the only son of a mother
who lost her husband in the previous war. (Decent policy) But, as the
narrator says, "after the war, Albert joined the French Resistance." This
brought gales of laughter, because the French resistance is highly
sensitive thing here. Everybody has an opinion on whether this guy or that
guy did or did not fight in the resistance, and yet everybody claims to
have been there. (In which case, how did the Germans stay so long?)
Albert also leaves his wife and her family who have humiliated him by
excuding him from their own resistance activities - as if they cannot trust
him, or he's not competent. He sets out to prove himself...a hero!
Albert closely observes the habits of his resistance heroes and apes them
until he rises in their estimation, marrying well, and becoming the Chief
of Security in Occupied Germany. He does a decent job, but things start to
slip and when he marries again, his first wife comes to find him and
exposes him. But what do you arrest him for? Really? He serves 3 years
What this movie is getting at, in my own opinion, is how difficult it is to
be young in post-war France, particularly in this, the 50th anniversary of
the end of WWII. Was your father in the resistance? What was the
resistance? Who, if anybody, collaborated? Why is that the measure of a
Frenchman? And do you have to mimic those qualities in order to get a job
today? In a socially stratified society, every element of your background
is inspected, and if you can't control your genetic pool, maybe it's better
just to reprogram it.
There remains the question of the fairness to others of Albert's assuming
this other identity. But among all the obviously legitimate folks here at
Cannes in the business of fooling most of the people most of the time,
that's too hard to debate.
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