Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Guillaume Canet
Starring: Francois Cluzet, Marie-Josee Croze, Andre Dussollier, Kristin Scott Thomas, Giles Lellouche
(Not Rated, 125 min.)
"Leap, and the net will appear." Julie Cameron
This taut French thriller is fast paced and well crafted with a plot that evolves out of rather than around its eclectic cast of characters. Unlike too many recent films that depend upon torturous twists that end up in a tangle, this yarn yields a skein than runs smooth and true.
Pediatrician Alexandre Beck (Francois Cluzet) tends to his young patients with tender care, but his zest for life has been gone for the past eight years following the brutal murder of his beloved wife Margot (Marie-Josee Croze). Then two events occur almost simultaneously to waken him from his stupor.
First is the discovery of two corpses near the lake property where Margot died, and on its heels, a cryptic email that suggests Margot is still alive. The police, who have always thought Alexandre the guilty party, reopen the case, having discovered some incriminating evidence with the two corpses.
Alexandre, like the audience, is taken off balance. On the one hand, the mere suggestion that Margot is alive, as a computer video suggests, reawakens all the emotions he had packed away with her old belongings. The sender of the emails uses a kind of code shared by Margot and Alexandre, but the contacts are few and far between. They are being watched, the messenger insists, and Alexandre is to tell no one.
On the other hand, the police are back on the supposedly solved case in a very big way. The serial killer convicted of Margot’s murder, they remind each other, has consistently maintained his innocence in this crime, even after admitting his guilt in many others. Then there are the newly discovered nude photos of Margot, bloody and bruised, as well as a shotgun that traces back to Alexandre’s father, apparently the murder weapon that killed the two men recently unearthed.
But it isn’t only the police who have their eyes on Alexandre. A mysterious third party is spying on his computer, while some particularly nasty specimens are further bloodying up the scene with assorted torture and corpses.
Part of the beauty of this film is the way seemingly irrelevant details and characters, sort of throw aways we think are in there merely for mood and texture, end up being of critical importance. Alexandre’s tender care for a hemophiliac isn’t merely to establish his nice guy credentials. Nor is his large, shaggy dog just a humanizing detail. The scenes with his sister Anne riding her jumper are more than local color and atmosphere as well.
We are also treated to great chase scene, but this one is afoot rather on squealing tires. While not the athletic wonder of Parkour, a French sport which combines running and martial arts recently displayed in District B 13 and Casino Royale, Alexandre’s flight from police has the gritty integrity of an ordinary man pushed to extraordinary limits, and as such, one with which viewers are more likely to identify. We may marvel at Parkour, but we gasp and sweat right along there with Alexandre.
Crisp editing and quick cuts toss us back and forth efficiently from the events of eight years ago to the present offspring of these guilty deeds. Shotgun like, it batters us with nagging questions and newly minted shocks. How did Alexandre, beaten unconscious before falling into the lake, ever get himself up on the dock again in such a state? What was behind Margot’s visits to a sleazy lawyer just before she was killed? And did she have an affair with a young tough as the said lawyer alleges?
Forget all those popcorn films for now and see one that commands your full attention, particularly the little grey cells. You will be richly rewarded.
Helene, one of Alexandre’s good friends owns a restaurant. On the anniversary of Margot’s death they meet for lunch, their minds on things other than food. Even without thinking, Helene knows just what to order, the sole.
Who can argue with her choice? She probably knows how delicious this simple French dish is. Soaked in white wine, sautéed in olive oil, and served in a brown butter lemon sauce, it is almost as healthy as it is delicious. (Feel free to use a more diet conscious substitute for the butter, if you must.)
Just a few bites to tide you over before you solve the mystery. Bon Appetit.
To complete your French dinner, try these:
Sautéed Sole Meuniere
- 4 sole fillets (about 6 ounces each)
- White wine
- Olive oil
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) butter
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) lemon juice
- 1/4 cup (80 ml) parsley flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 lemon, quartered
How to cook:
- Sprinkle sole fillets with wine and salt.
- Coat fish fillets with flour.
- Saute the sole fillets until golden brown and remove to plates.
- Mix butter, lemon juice and parsley in the frying pan and warm over low heat.
- Pour sauce over the sautéed sole fillets and serve with lemon quarters.
Recipe Source: All-Fish-Seafood-Recipes.com