Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mesrine: L'instinct de mort/L'ennemi public n°1. - One man show - guess whose?

Every now and then the French film makers manage to push an impressive and often a remarkably original movie through the thick barrage of low-brow Hollywood pieces of go-se. It is hardly a coincidence that quite a few of those – ‘La haine’, ‘Dobermann’, ‘Les rivières pourpres’, to name but a few - are with the participation of Vincent Cassel, an incredibly talented and versatile actor, equally able to perform in action and in dramatic roles. He is being held in high demand and regularly cast on both sides of the ocean. 

However, the downside of his popularity among movie makers and audience alike is the inevitable starring in trivial pictures as the tedious life story of Jacques Mesrine, a gangster that had been labeled Public Enemy #1 by the French press in the late 60s. That leaves us with the wrong impression that he must had been some criminal mastermind, but as presented in the movie, it’s been quite the opposite – the guy was a small fry who had just been dumb enough to keep too high of a profile with most of his attempts to commit a crime being borderline idiotic and inevitably resulting in full-out shootouts. With a story that is probably already well known to most French and therefore hard to change, the director didn’t have much of a choice and the movie in its turn didn’t have much to offer (although it also didn’t irk me) except for the acting of Monsieur Cassel, who took full advantage of the extended screen time (two full features, almost four hours in total) in a ostentatious show-off of his abilities to transform and act. From that point of view, the movie is probably something he’d like to have under his belt. However for the rest of us this long promo tape doesn't hold enough value to sit through.
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