1 April 2011 | stuka24
Fine cautionary tale, well filmed and acted!
This is a film about solitude, self deceit and of course, alcoholism as a metaphor of any other addiction.
Francis Belmont is your typical luxury-car salesman. Cheeky, self-assured, with a flair for cheap talk and an ability to lie. Flashbacks from the start make you see how life can change, how rough can be the fall, and how lonely can it become. Beautiful Sylvaine (Laurence Cordier) is the perfect wife, with perfect friends like Margot and her husband (with SUV sold by Francis), a perfect expensive house, a nice son "Gaspard"... Jeanne is sensible about her husband's problems, booze, financial, violence, but gullible and fragile in the end. By seeing her fall, we see ourselves believe in the lies some people around us always tell us, and how we believe them. That is the main "value" of this film. At that, it's simply chilling. Lelouche's acting as a 'physical' man, a drunkard who gets what he wants by lying and being violent is very believable, this is the ground on which the rest of the film builds upon. There is some criticism of prestige goods and "follow the crowd" by Francis but this is not really why he cracks. We are never told how it begun, nor how he managed to pull through till the beginning of the film. This may be my quibble of this movie. Porter Louis / Marc Chapiteau, is one of those "guardian angels" that sometimes pop up. Of course, he's got his own past behind him. Sadly nice Jeanne (Carole Franck ) is as important, and Francis gets to help her in a nice way called Helene from Latvia :). Her monologue at AA is moving, and the way Francis and her strike a friendship, not based on sex or interest. Francis's enthusiastic and brief speech: "get the girl" is a nice example of how they can also "get a life", besides their addiction. Humour and rebounding. Thierry, the record salesman, is very believable, as is their grouchy chief and Georges, his father-in-law. Note all characters are called by their names, no surnames, like at AA (Alcoholics anonymous). You see their struggles, how they live constantly fearing falling back, for the thrills, the pain as much as the easing of pain. "Thirst" is something you'll see differently if you get inside this film. Louis tells him: "start by staying clean for 24 hours". Jeanne advices him to look forward to the next AA daily gathering, and you see how hard this can be for formerly "winner" Francis. "I am here" Francis says to Jeanne, who answers: "that's what matters". Francis' "focused attention" on booze on bars is a vivid example of how deprived his life has become. Music is really fine, specially near the end. So is the piano and strings score, minimalist, anticipating tension. There's a fun scene with a piano, followed by Jeanne playing
, and another not so nice later with the same musical instrument. The city Lille where everything happens looks civilized. Every scene is well crafted, like the one that gives the film its name, or at the pawn shop, when he by his own accord sells his VIP 2K wristwatch for the pittance he's given (these shops are sleazy everywhere, I guess). As his way of guiltlessly lying about his dad as a way to come back from his unwilling "trip to Thailand".
My favourite scene is when he brags with the two clochards, his new "friends", father and son, about how strong he is at his job, as "conversation". BTW, there's no such thing as gratitude when you fall that low. The ending is rather abrupt, maybe commercial, don't expect much. On the contrary, I liked how they show how difficult is for them to get "back on track", with basic things like getting a job. That's why the role of "parrains": Louis, Jeanne and Jeannot is so important, because they know how it feels, are non-judgmental, and always available, 24/7. You'd only hope TV films would be half as good. Enjoy!