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.
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