30 December 2005 | rsoonsa
Those Involved Should Be Proud Of An Impressive Effort.
This French/American co-production, filmed in English, had its initial United States showing during the 2004 Method Fest in Burbank, California where it was largely undervalued (and ignored at the award proceedings), although it certainly meets the requirements for that venue of being a breakout independent film, additionally being tightly made and competently acted in the bargain, with engrossing sequences successfully presenting both melodramatic and humorous elements. Michel (Jérémie Covillault), a pickpocket while in his native France and wanted there by police, has made his way to the U.S. with a visa, now expired, and remains as an illegal immigrant in New York City where he resolutely tries to begin life afresh as an honest working man, and presently falls in love with Zoe (Sarah Zoe Canner), an American law student who balances her conscience against creative impulses as artist until she becomes caught up in her romantic relationship with Michel. Because the Immigration and Naturalization Service (I.N.S.) has discovered that Michel is not legally documented, he faces deportation along with a dismal future in France unless he can raise $2500 within three days to extend his visa, and he desperately attempts by sundry means to honestly earn the required sum despite blandishments from Kim (Andrew Pang), a con man who learned his illicit skills in Paris as Michel's acolyte, and who now offers to aid his former teacher in securing the money through restoration of their criminal collaboration. Michel's desire to go straight has increased his appeal to Zoe, after she learns of his shady past, but after he becomes a suspect for a murder that he did not commit, and his attempts at legally gaining the $2500 required to pay an immigration attorney become increasingly futile, Michel must decide upon either fleeing to Mexico, or remaining in Manhattan with Zoe, therein hoping to be hidden from the I.N.S. amid the metropolitan masses. Able direction that emphasizes detail, some adroit scripting of dialogue (e.g., "Americans don't eat; they feed themselves"), crisply efficient editing, and appropriately mixed descriptive scoring all benefit this correctly cast and well-acted piece, the two leads contributing excellent turns and Pang winning acting laurels here for his creative performance as a sly manipulator. Although obviously shot with low definition digital video tape, images are quite clear and sound quality is never less than adequate, with general production values developing many rewarding moments for a viewer. The DVD release includes a 14 minute short feature titled "Get Lucky", concerning an aspiring actress, written, directed and edited by Canner and shown during a Columbia University film festival and, while a bit unfocused, it yet has an appealing narrative flow.