12 July 2010 | robert-temple-1
Daniel Auteuil in the Rough
This is a harrowing French police and crime drama directed by Olivier Marchal, who seems to do rather a lot of police films and TV. It features Daniel Auteuil as you may never have seen him before, looking like a drunken wreck of a man, unshaven and unwashed, though I have to say that Auteuil's rather thin weasly face looks better, in my opinion, with a modest beard. Auteuil is a very fine actor, and he conveys his character perfectly, though he is far from being a role model, as he gulps down neat whiskey a bottle at a time and is a very far gone alcoholic in this film. It is suggested that he was driven to this by despair at the death of his little girl and the paralysis and vegetative state of his wife as a result of a car crash, the flashes of which we see haunting him throughout this film. Despite his condition, he is kept on as a crack detective in the Paris homicide squad. His struggles to catch a serial killer of women are shown in parallel with another story which eventually dovetails with the main story. The subplot, which in the end turns out to be the main plot, involves another serial killer who after many years in prison is about to be released. Auteuil had originally found and arrested him years before. A little girl had who had watched her mother being murdered by this man has now grown up and is a very attractive but psychologically damaged young woman, effectively played by Olivia Bonamy, who looks much younger than she really is and has a deep, meditative, and intense gaze and plenty of cinematic appeal. It s inevitable that Bonamy will turn to Auteuil for help and protection when the vicious killer is released, and he indeed does start stalking Bonamy. The underlying themes of the film are the inadequacy of the French justice system, the corrupting forces of liberalism in the face of crime, and that main theme of all serious French cinema these days, the complete, total, and stifling corruption of the French Establishment, which covers up all crimes which have connection whatever with important people. We see film and film coming out of France with this theme, and we must conclude that all those filmmakers are trying to tell us something. But I don't believe anybody in the world can now doubt the truth of it, since the revelations years ago of the truth about Mr. Number One Hypocrite, Francois Mitterand, who turned out to be a Vichy official posing as a socialist and who used the French security services to pursue his erotic obsession with Carol Bouquet by bugging her flat. It seems that the French are seething with resentment at their elites, and maybe les enfants de la Patrie will rise again, so extreme seems to be their hatred of their own masters these days, as films like this convey it. It is a pity that the French do not drink proper tea, or they could have a French Tea Party Movement. They could always set up a Tisane Party Movement, but it doesn't have quite the same ring to it. One quibble about this intense and brilliantly made film, about from its violence and gruesomeness of course, and it is this: could we please have just one director of a police film anywhere in America, Britain, or France, who would stop spending so much time in the morgue looking at all the corpses? It really is disgusting. The whole cinematic industry seems to be on a necrophilia binge. Get over it! OK, so it may mean putting a small industry of corpse fabricators out of work and increase the unemployment rate, but they can always find work in an undertaker's establishment, and there is no need to ply their trade on screen like that. I really have seen enough burnt and mutilated corpses with bullet holes, oozing wounds, missing bits and pieces, and blood all over them, and wish to see no more, thank you. This film has an alternative title of MR73, and for those who wonder what that is, it is the name of a very expensive and custom-made revolver which one of the policeman has collected, keeps in a special box, and says 'is more beautiful than a woman'. It ends up being used, naturally, but not in a way which is at all beautiful.