1 item from 1997
French director Gilles Mimouni makes an unusually assured feature debut with this stylish suspenser that manages to pay a debt to "Vertigo" while going off in original directions of its own.
Although the convoluted plot ultimately has too many twists, there's much delicious fun to be had along the way. Recently showcased at the Miami Film Festival, the film is a good bet for domestic theatrical distribution, not to mention an American remake.
Anyone who thinks they can stay ahead of this story line had better revise their expectations. Shifting back and forth in time, the film tells the story of successful yuppie Max Vincent Cassell), who, while dining at a restaurant with his business associates and his fiancee, thinks that he sees his ex, Lisa (Monica Bellucci), the love of his life who got away. After an intense phone conversation with an apparent boyfriend, she flees the restaurant, with Max in pursuit, but he loses her. Soon, instead of jetting off to Tokyo for an important meeting, he secretly stays in Paris to find Lisa, all the while aided by Lucien (Jean-Philippe Ecoffey), another friend from the past with whom he's been recently reunited.
Max manages to find Lisa's apartment and breaks in to wait for her. The occupant returns and, to Max's chagrin, it's another woman (Romane Bohringer), who claims to be Mary's best friend. He manages to rescue her just before she takes a suicidal leap from the window. She invites him to stay over, and it isn't long before the two are involved in a torrid clinch. It would spoil the fun of the film to give away anything more; suffice it to say that identities and motivations here are never quite what they seem, and writer-director Mimouni has a seemingly inexhaustible bag of cinematic and storytelling tricks that keeps the audience in a delighted state of breathless anticipation and confusion.
Unlike most first-time helmers, Mimouni seems utterly assured with the film medium, and invests "L'Appartement" with a compelling visual stylishness and imagination. The young cast delivers expert performances, with Cassell highly winning as the befuddled Max and Bohringer alternately sexy, pitiful and menacing as the multifaceted Lisa. Tech credits are first-rate, with the city of Paris captured in all its visual splendor.
UGC D.A. International
Director-screenwriter Gilles Mimouni
Producer Georges Benayoun
Executive producer Elisabeth Deviosse
Cinematography Thierry Arbogast
Editors Caroline Beggerstaff, Francoise Bonnot
Music Peter Chase
Max Vincent Cassell
Alice Romane Bohringer
Lucien Jean-Philippe Ecoffey
Lisa Monica Bellucci
Running time -- 116 minutes
No MPAA rating
1 item from 1997
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