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On 9 January 1836, Pierre Lacenaire goes to the guillotine, a murderer and a thief. He gives Allard, a police inspector, his life story, written while awaiting execution. He also asks ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pierre-François Lacenaire
Jacques Weber ...
Jacques Arago
Le père de Lacenaire
Geneviève Casile ...
La mère de Lacenaire
Jean Davy ...
Alphonse Damoiseau
Jacques Duby ...
Paul Le Person ...
Hermine (as Maïwenn Le Besco)
Jacques Sereys ...
Gérard Desarthe ...
Professeur Tonnelier
Jean-Damien Barbin ...
Marie-Armelle Deguy ...
Princesse Ida
L'abbé de Lusignan


On 9 January 1836, Pierre Lacenaire goes to the guillotine, a murderer and a thief. He gives Allard, a police inspector, his life story, written while awaiting execution. He also asks Allard to care for Hermine, a lass to whom he has been guardian for more than ten years. In flashbacks, from the prison as Lacenaire writes, from Allard's study as he and Hermine read, and from other readers' memory after the book is published, we see Lacenaire's childhood as he stands up to bullies, including priests, his youthful thieving, his first murder, his brief army career, his seduction of a princess, and his affair with Avril, a young man who dies beside him. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Biography | Drama


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Release Date:

19 December 1990 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Elegant Criminal  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The investment by the Club des Investisseurs, comprised of Credit Lyonnais, Credit Agricole, Credit National, Worms, Epargne de France, Caisse des Depots and Sodete, was guaranteed by the French government's Institut pour le Financement du Cinema et des Industries Culturelles (IFCIC). See more »

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Un Infant du paradis
20 June 2005 | by See all my reviews

Lacenaire is well known of the French audience.He is featured in the most famous movie of our whole cinema "les enfants du paradis ".Marcel Carné's magnum opus masterfully mixed real life characters (Baptiste Debureau,Lacenaire and even Avril) and fictional ones (Garance,Montray).Francis Girod's style does not look like Carne's to the slightest extent,but it includes some nods to the great ancestor: the carnival for instance .

Girod loves the unconventional figures:in "le trio infernal" he made delicate Romy Schneider an awful criminal.In "la banquière" he made the same actress a bisexual Robin Hood of the finance.In that later film,he showed his limits however.He invented the character (supposedly a real life one) almost as much Arthur Penn did with Bonnie and Clyde.

Ditto for "Lacenaire" , a movie which wants us to side with the hero.Lacenaire might have been an anarchist but he was a criminal too.He might have been an educated man (you may remember how Bob Dylan praised gangster Joey Gallo -"Desire" album- just because he used to read Nietzsche in jail),poisoned with religion and a bourgeois family,he remains in the end nothing but a murderer:there's a tendency to forgive the worst of criminals when they have a high IQ (see also for that matter Frankenheimer's "the young savages")The movie is a long flashback ,based on Lacenaire's memoirs .There's the obligatory trial where Daniel Auteuil can play his "hero of the people" part .There's the obligatory gay character.There's the obligatory guillotine scene.It's finally a politically correct movie (= made to please you ,nineties viewer) Lacenaire should never have left the children of the paradise.

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