Bernard Rapp's premier film is firmly anchored in the world of books and publishing. It's a domain the former French journalist knows like the back of his hand for he composed many books as well as he produced and host some television programs about writers.
Sadly, his wide knowledge as regards the publishing world is harmed by a total absent command of the detective genre and its main motor: suspense. From the moment onwards when Edward Lamb (Terence Stamp) looks at the telegram informing him about the death of his erstwhile lover and goes to Tunisia to find out the truth about her death, it's downhill because one can easily guess who the culprit is and the conspiracy Edwards will elaborate to avenge himself from his gifts as a forger. Real suspense isn't on appointment and the writing is on the wall for both Nicolas Fabry (Daniel Mesguich) and the film itself.
"Tiré à Part" is also sadly marred by a caricatured depiction of the characters. It was ill-advised from Rapp to have chosen Daniel Mesguich as the quarry of Lamb's manipulation. His character of unscrupulous, brash writer and his rather repulsive physic make him detestable straight away. It's also hardly palatable that he didn't feel any remorse after his murder. If it had been the case, he would have been a more ambiguous character and the film would have taken another better direction. As for Terence Stamp, he deserves better than his role. Ditto for Jean-Claude Dreyfuss who seems to be bored here.
Rapp who had English ancestors was fond of English culture but it's superfluous from him to have chosen Great-Britain than France for the backdrop of his ramshackle thriller for it doesn't bring anything useful to the fragile story. It's a shame for Rapp: had he penned a more solid story, he would have better served his topic of manipulation. A theme which will be at the core of his next effort: "une Affaire De Goût" (2000).