28 January 2005 | bob998
Isabelle Adjani as destructive goddess
The French love for American crime novels has been written about many times. Jim Thompson's works have been adapted by many of the leading directors. Truffaut's early career was based largely on this genre; he made Shoot the Pianist from David Goodis's novel, and many of Chabrol's films are taken from American pulp. Claude Miller made his second film Dites-lui que je l'aime from Patricia Highsmith's This Sweet Sickness.
In Mortelle Randonnee, Miller is working with Marc Behm's novel The Eye of the Beholder, which I haven't read. I suppose Miller chose to throw out most of the plot elements of Behm's book; that's the usual practice in France. The theme of obsessional love of a man for the girl he believes to be his daughter is triumphantly brought to life by a great cast, aided by Carla Bley's richly melancholic music (post-modern brass band?), Pierre Lhomme's lovely camera-work (those rain-slicked night shots, the sad neon lights on hotel fronts), the expert choice of sets (Helmut Newton would have loved that German health spa where Catherine meets the lesbian Cora).
Finally, the wonderful cast: Michel Serrault so wistful as the private investigator preparing an endless series of cover-ups of Adjani's killings, he's as good here as he was in Garde à vue; Isabelle Adjani living on her jangled nerves as she criss-crosses Europe in search of new prey; Geneviève Page (who I remember from Belle de jour--the brothel keeper) as the crisp director of the detective agency Serrault works for; the startling transformation of the gorgeous Stéphane Audran into a homely housewife--what a makeup job--who is also tracking Adjani. The last act is darker and more anguished than the preceding ones, the viewer will have to resist the urge to ask what happened to the comic bits.