|Index||4 reviews in total|
I'm not talking about the kind of people who watch films like URBAN LEGEND
or get their kicks out of seeing fast-paced Hollywood blockbusters.
Whatever. This example of high-brow filmmaking should be on the viewing list
of any film lecturer or theorist. Did you like PULP FICTION? Well, forget
it. After seeing this film you will be inclined to call Tarantino's
"masterpiece" a playful variation of what you CAN do on film.
Using the powerful technique of a frame narrative, director Verneuil goes on to tell the story of an ex-convict (Belmondo), who returns to his scene of "crime". He returns to the people he was involved with and ponders about the good and bad times he had. What really happened all these years ago? What is he going to do? Actually, the past is not catching up with him, he is catching up with the past.
A serious, intelligent (even intellectual) film, subtle to the nth degree, a must-see. And yet nobody (or hardly anybody) knows of its existence. Discover this masterpiece. It's worth it. No one (repeat: NO ONE) has linked the past and present better than Henri Verneuil. If you want to know what filmmaking can be about (and mostly isn't), check this out.
If you make it through this film and still think that it's about football, Hollywood has changed your perception for the worse. Tune your brain in to Henri Verneuil and this film and you will SEE.
Watch Le Corps de Mon Ennemi. Watch I... Comme Icare (Verneuil's follow-up) and you'll KNOW what you have missed all these years.
Plenty of great movie talent worked on "Body Of My Enemy." For all
their efforts, this movie is the worst of the movies that paired
Jean-Paul Belmondo with director Henri Verneuil. The plot of this movie
makes no sense, dealing with an interloper, Belmondo playing a social
climber, Francois Leclerq, who gets involved with the super rich and
influential family that controls the textile industry in his town. The
movie starts off with Belmondo's character getting off a train at the
Cournai station, just out of prison, where he served 7 years for a
double murder he did not commit.
This opening scene was masterfully photographed by Jean Penzer, as is the entire movie. Marie-France Piser, who plays the rich man's daughter, never looked better, her beauty luminous thanks to DP Penzer. "Body Of My Enemy" was the fourth and last movie in a row that Penzer photographed for Belmondo's Cerito Films. The next movie Penzer worked on as DP was "Get Out Your Handkerchiefs,' directed by Bertrand Blier, the son of Bernard Blier - who played the head of the rich Liégard family in "Body Of My Enemy." The production values of this Belmondo star vehicle, the fine cast and the effort made in finding exterior locations just right for the story cannot compensate for a movie that is overloaded with flashbacks that vitiate the story. "Disjointed" is one word that you can use to describe this movie. As I watched this movie, I started to think that Leclerq, Belmondo's character, is a really unappealing sort, an egocentric guy quick to join the rich crowd.
I just saw this movie on a StudioCanal DVD (in French only), using the English .srt subtitles someone finally posted for this movie on the Internet. The DVD played fine but the movie not so good, a pretentious look at how rich people live. Still, that Marie-France Pisier. At about the 50 minute point, in a bathrobe, she gives a quick salute to Belmondo before the scene cuts. What a looker, what a personality!
"Body of My Enemy" is not a hard-boiled crime story, but it is a crime
story. There are two Belmondos played here. One is the brown-haired
Belmondo of 7 years earlier, who met and made love to the daughter
(Marie-France Pisier) of the local textile magnate, Bernard Blier. She
married someone else. Belmondo opened a successful night club. When a
double murder occurred in his club and with his revolver, he was
convicted of murder but with extenuating circumstances. After serving 7
years, the more grey-haired Belmondo is released. He goes back to find
out who framed him. The story alternates between past and present,
letting us in on what happened as Belmondo himself discovers it.
Belmondo's character is a man with a sunny disposition, while underneath he is very serious about his objectives. This charm of his takes the edge off a story that could have been told in a tough and violent way but is not. The pacing is leisurely, and there really isn't that much complexity to the story. It's reasonably entertaining. Belmondo does his usual good job.
Verneuil began his career as a minor film noir director :"des gens sans
importance" was certainly an interesting effort.In the sixties,he
became the king of the box office with the likes of "melodie en
sous-sol" and "le clan des siliciens.These were commercial entertaining
With "peur sur la ville" ,one of his best thrillers,he began to show more ambition.
With "le corps de mon ennemi" he thought he could become (why not?) a "meaningful" director in the continuum of (roughly ) Clouzot-to Cayatte-to Chabrol-to Boisset.But he is not original enough to justify the banality of his insights and to the extent that his films (this one and the next one "I comme Icare") are meant to be political statements,they are cowardly..The rivalry Blier/Belmondo's father (roughly the right-wing baddie versus the good leftish guy) is given a treatment which stands no danger of shocking or raising questions.Even the trick (it's raining photographs during the meeting) is borrowed from Clouzot's "le corbeau" (1943) The first part ,however,includes good scenes:Belmondo entering the bourgeois world is sometimes interesting.He gets good support from Blier and earnest thespian Marie-France Pisier .The best is probably the dinner where all the posh people exchange trivialities and Pisier's mother ,a bubble head woman ,takes the biscuit.Unfortunately most of the characters disappear during the second part (the number one nightclub)and when they come back,for a monopoly game(!)it's too late.
The "grammar" of the story,its only originality ,is that it features three tenses :present (Belmondo's come back and his revenge),past (the trial;very short sequences) and past perfect (why Belmondo was in jail).
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