User Reviews (2)

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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Some crimes remain mysterious;why some day an all-French boy everybody would never thought he could.....The precedent user complains because there is no apparent reason ,no motivation....." We were such a happy family" cries Emilie.

    The key to the movie is probably the nightmare where Julien comes home:

    mother:It's you Julien !I hardly knew you;(to father) don't you think he does not look very well?

    father:Can't you see he's dead?

    It takes 53 min before we know the crime Julien committed ;he got a twenty-year sentence (at 16!) and he's released on parole thirteen years later.The director ,for sure,wanted us to meet his pitiful "hero" before we know the truth.

    He's a complex young man ,a tormented soul:we catch glimpses of his adolescence in flashbacks but nothing can explain the tragedy.A clue might be given: an incestuous love for his sister Emilie :is she pregnant by him? Or is it the rape she was victim of? (a scene totally gratuitous ,and ,as the precedent user wrote,it does not shock that much the girl).In the last sequences ,they share the same bed ,although we never see them make love;however,they have no lover, neither the boy nor the girl .

    Julien is obviously a misfit :nobody can understand him,and he does not know what he wants to do ;Robinson Stevenin and his cowering look keep things vague :he was excellent opposite François Cluzet in the MTV "Le Silence Des Eglises " in which a priest abused him and he felt a certain pleasure ;definitely a character actor.

    If the intellectual side of the character is not really convincing (if it weren't for the scene in the book store,it would be completely incredible,in spite of the strange prologue philosophizing about guilt and remorse),his tragic side can't elude the viewer;like Pierre Rivière ,this peasant who slaughtered his whole family (see "Moi,Pierre Rivière " René Allio's movie ,1976),he feels guilt but even thirteen years later,he does not seem to realize what he has done ;he does not want to be helped and if he holds up a shop,it's not for the money but to be punished and sent back to jail.

    It's a confusing movie ;in a word:elusive.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There are probably as many reasons to commit a crime as there are not. Unhappily for this film, the story within leaves the viewer – at least this viewer – in state of ambiguity about reasons.

    In the opening sequence, we see 28 year old Julien (Robinson Stevenin) released from prison, having spent 13 years inside during which he studied for, and obtained, a PhD. Hence, immediately, it's obvious he has committed a crime, the nature of which remains hidden; but, implicitly, we also know he's articulate, intelligent and educated.

    On the outside, he meets up with a friend, Bob (Nicholas Giraud), who has found the young woman with whom Julien must reconnect: her name is Emilie (Fanny Valette), a dark and sensuous beauty. Soon, it's revealed that Bob is a small time crook who – naturally – tempts Julien with promises of big money. Julien resists – he doesn't wish to land back in prison – and instead concentrates upon his quest for Emilie during the second act of the story. Smart boy, one would think. But, perhaps not?

    Along with Bob, however, we soon learn the Julien was incarcerated for murder. But, who was the victim? That's the tantalizing question that remains unanswered – although there are hints – until the end of the second act, all of which centers upon Julien's repeated attempts to rekindle a relationship with Emilie. That effort is protracted and violent, but reveals another piece to the puzzle about Julien and Emilie. And, I should add, more tantalizing possibilities...

    The short and violent final act resolves the mystery of the murder, but leaves an unsatisfactory residue in one's brain. To wit: is that it? Was that Julien's true motivation for murder? If so, banality has a new face. To be sure, in real life many are indeed murdered for ridiculous reasons. In the context of Julien's story, however, the implications of his motivations are even more horrific than just his own words; but the story doesn't close adequately for me – although the final scene provides a hint.

    To some extent, I'm reminded of Hidden (2005), that mysterious story that left so many viewers perplexed and even angry. But I was quite happy with Haneke's treatment of Hidden's story and denouement; with this one, I'm disappointed and just a tad peeved.

    The main actors did a good job, though, as did the supporting cast. The photography is adequate, the editing also; but, I thought the intrusion of violins so often to be terribly clichéd. Worse, in my opinion, is the slow pacing of the story resulting in a significant lack of suspense. I guess I must blame the director on that score.

    Quite frankly, I almost gave up watching after my twenty-minute rule expired. But, I had nothing of importance to do at the time, so I let it roll on. Maybe you should see the movie on that basis also. Give it a five out of ten.

    November 23, 2011.