5 July 2009 | dbdumonteil
Behind mildewed walls
Georges Lampin was a rather ambitious director,at least in the first part of his career ,"Suivez Cet Homme" being his last real attempt at an original work.His Russian adaptations were too French -although Lampin was born in Saint Petersburg" ;"L'Eternel Conflit" was Lampin at his most ambitious ,but after a brilliant beginning ,it sank into the banality of melodrama;"Le Paradis Des Pilotes Perdus" was a disaster movie long before the seventies trend but the lack of means was obvious;"Les Anciens De Saint Loup' was a "Disparus De Saint Agil" for grown ups but a certain misogyny made the movie a bit unpalatable ,in spite of a great cast.One should add that his segment of "Retour A la Vie" was the weakest link of this collective work.
"Suivez Cet Homme" might be his best movie;its construction is bizarre :two segments,linked by the presence of a cop ,played by Bernard Blier as some kind of Commissaire Maigret,who goes to work every day and buys "Rustica" magazine at the railway station.
Segment One:in a seedy house on the wrong side of town ,in a place with mildewed walls ,there lives a pawnbroker (ideally played by Suzy Prim).Her apartment is packed with valuable stuff,every thing seems to tell a story.One day,she's poisoned and there are two suspects : her husband she left and who,short of the readies ,wanted her to give him some dough; a depraved person ,a girl who used to work for her ,actually her lover (Lampin ,fourteen years before Chabrol's "Les Biches" ,depicted an ambiguous relationship between two women);the girl is actually a victim, a superbly portrayed character (Andrée Clément was a first class actress who disappeared too soon).Because of the presence of a physician,the cop uses a tensiometer as a lie detector . This whodunit is really well made.
Segment two: a jeweler is arrested by two cops in uniform but it seems to be a miscarriage of justice ;it's all the more strange since soon after we see the two policemen stealing jewels from the shop ;the scene is particularly successful:the ticking of all the clocks creates an incredible nervous tension.If the first segment was psychological whodunit,this one is more thriller ,with spooky moments ,notably in the hut where the two criminals get rid of an undesirable witness or in this village near decay where the killer strangles his victim to the sound of a church organ.
"Suivez Cet Homme" is a really good work,but it's perhaps too bad that the director did not try to link his two segments which are both interesting but are actually two different movies.