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L'appartement
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Apartment More at IMDbPro »L'appartement (original title)

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52 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

Formidable!

10/10
Author: paul2001sw-1 (paul2001sw@yahoo.co.uk) from Saffron Walden, UK
15 January 2003

This is an astonishing film: a romantic thriller with a convoluted but perfectly constructed and devastatingly symmetrical plot, brilliantly buttressed by the use of recurring visual motifs. Everything in it is beautifully filmed: the women, the apartments; but more amazing is the devastating juxtapositioning of images, almost every scene has echoes of another. This is a story told in light, in colour, in many almost-parallels. Every time I watch it, it fills me with delight.

The acting is great too. Romane Bohringer is stunning as a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown: everything about her changes with her mood. Vincent Cassel plays a very different role to his part in La Haine; but no less excellently: shifty and sympathetic at the same time. And Monica Bellucci - ah!, Monica Bellucci, well, put simply, she plays (is?) the world's most perfect woman. There's one small scene about three quarters of the way through where she does nothing more than smile; yet in that instant, says more than hours of Hollywood junk.

One cannot do justice to this film without at least mentioning the superb, sequential climax: sad, shocking, ironic and subtle in turn. But if one moment captures the brilliance of this work, it's the scene at the start of this fabulous denouement, the prospect of which has been teasingly laid before us throughout the entire story. Yet when the moment comes, it is handled so delicately, so briefly, so deftly, that on reflection it makes you gasp. Only a director of staggering confidence would dare to underplay this vital point. But the confidence is justified. Cinema doesn't come much better than this.

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36 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Don't be misled by "the French Single White Female" tag. This is a fascinating romantic thriller in the Hitchcock tradition.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
25 April 2003

I knew nothing about this movie after being recommended to watch it by a friend, but I decided to take a chance on it as I have come to really like Vincent Cassel ('La Haine', 'The Crimson Rivers', 'The Brotherhood Of The Wolf'), even if I don't always enjoy the movies he's in (e.g. 'Dobermann'), and the added attraction of the beautiful Monica Bellucci, Cassel's frequent co-star and former wife, didn't hurt any either. The packaging proclaimed 'The Apartment' to be "the French Single White Female", and while there is SOME comparisons between the two movies I think it gives the viewer quite misleading expectations, and is probably best ignored. 'The Apartment' is more of a mystery than a thriller, and doesn't rely on shock tactics. Fans of Alfred Hitchcock, especially 'Rear Window' and 'Vertigo', which it deliberately references, will really appreciate this movie. It isn't as blatant a homage as say, Brian De Palma's 'Sisters', 'Obsession' and 'Dressed To Kill', but the influence is obvious. Cassel plays a man on the eve of his marriage, who unexpectedly finds himself pursuing an old flame (Bellucci) that he has unfinished business with. His search for her eventually leads him to what he believes is her house, but he is then surprised to find it is a case of mistaken identity, and a completely different girl (Romane Bohringer) enters his life. Things however are not what they appear to be, but to reveal anymore of the fascinating twists and turns in the plot, most of which are revealed in flashback, would be extremely unfair! Suffice to say this is a multi-layered, consistently interesting mystery romance which I found to be entertaining and unpredictable. Bellucci looks wonderful, but acting wise Bohringer is the real find here, while Cassel continues to impress. He has genuine talent and charisma and seems destined to become a major international star one day. I believe an American remake of this movie is due anytime now, but I seriously doubt that it will be half as good as this, so try and see it if you can. Highly recommended.

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29 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic!

9/10
Author: Superunknovvn from Austria, Vienna
25 April 2004

"L'appartement" has to be among the best French films I have ever seen (along with "Hatred", also starring Vincent Cassel, and those great Gerard Dépardieu/Pierre Richard movies). Cassel and Bellucci are amazing in the leading roles. Aside from "Brotherhood Of The Wolves" and "Dobermann" I have not yet seen a bad movie with this couple. "L'appartement" sucks you in from the beginning and the twists and turns keep you thrilled until the very end. Fragment storytelling really hasn't worked this well since "Pulp Fiction". Let's just hope there won't be a godawful American remake of this unique romance/mystery-thriller. (EDIT: Guess what! A godawful American remake has been made!)!

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27 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Get set for the emotional rollercoaster

10/10
Author: lctorana from Melbourne, Australia
4 November 2001

This is a fabulous film.

The plot is a good yarn, and is imaginatively told in a series of flashbacks and alternative points of view. What was deliberate, and what was coincidence? Who is in love with who?

You get the chance to put yourselves in the shoes of each of the characters in turn (sometimes literally), and this helps define each character to a satisfying depth.

With a bit of effort following the twists and turns, you can understand each of the characters; and key events in the film are reshot from the point of view of different people.

Take the opportunity if it comes again to your arthouse cinema; it looks good on the big screen.

More than keeping you guessing, the plot twists to such an extent that you just sit and watch what unfolds - I defy anyone to predict!

But more likely you will need more than one viewing - I saw this at the pictures on its original release three times, and it got better each time.

The acting was very good, with a standout performance by Romane Bohringer as Alice torn in three directions by the three other characters in the ensemble.

A classic. The second-best film of the 1990s.

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24 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Intricate

8/10
Author: howie73
9 January 2005

Forget the recent dire American remake which sadly tarnished the reputation of the French original by virtue of the director's involvement in both. This is a deftly- drawn romantic 90s noir with many twists and turns. It works best as a Gallic ode to Hitchcock's Rear Window, because the notion of voyeurism is the constant theme that fires the intricate screenplay. The story is stunningly realized, like a Picasso painting, offering multi-perspectives on the same event and demanding the viewer's participation throughout. The settings, music and haunting score are wonderful as well as the excellent contributions from the cast. Watch it more than once.

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20 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Overlong,pretentious,utterly implausible

6/10
Author: MrSqwubbsy from United Kingdom
2 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love French cinema,vraiment,but this sort of slop gives it a bad name. For every zingy,stylish Diva there are sadly many more turkeys like this. Firstly,as others have pointed out,the actors are more given to pouting and exuding existential angst than actually filling out believable characters. I couldn't have cared less about a single one of them,which is a fatal flaw in any film in my book. Implausible,unsympathetic and nauseatingly narcissistic. Worst of all is Monica Bellucci ("ooh,isn't she so yummy?") who swans through the film to no great effect,her role merely to be absurdly gorgeous and act as a hollow erotic talisman for the archetypal passionate yet soft-headed French romantic lead,played by the gormless Cassel. God,I bet they made a riveting couple when they were married. I watched the movie over several sittings as it just did nothing to hold my interest. The flashbacks and changes in perspective succeeded in alienating me and muddying the already creaky plot and were presumably stuck in there to earn the director "cred points" rather than for any coherent artistic effect. Subsequently when it thankfully drew to its close,I was none the wiser about who did what and to whom. Or more importantly why? We are supposed to buy that old French canard (geddit?) about men and women losing their heads pour l'amour. Then again did Max ever really love Alice/Lisa/his fiancée? How did everyone afford to live in such high Parisian style when none appeared to do much work? Where did Alice get her money from anyway? Oh yes,she was a sometime actress as we saw in that superfluous sub-plot about the Midsummer Night's Dream production. Talk about cynically pandering to amateur critics to facilitate guff about " plays-within-plays" and so on! More proof of a director too interested in ticking "art-house film" boxes and flattering the intelligence of his overawed audience. Before the final conflagration in the eponymous flat,I still wondered if perhaps it was I who'd failed to match up to a fine and complex,multi-layered piece of movie-making. Then when I saw the vacant look on Lisa's face as her bloke torched the place followed by the clichéd slow-mo of Max's mate going backwards through the café window,the man behind the curtain was cruelly shown up. It wasn't me after all-this so-called art film is as much an imposter as Alice herself. And it should be put on a plane to Rome one-way forthwith.

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23 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Le Apartment Rouge

10/10
Author: Svengali-2001 from Australia
10 June 2004

I watched this film for the second time tonight after about three years and it was as wonderful as before...

There are more than a dozen modern stunning French films from en couer de hiver to the three colours trilogy and all of them are special. This film is one of them. A true delight with so many great things going for it from the homage to Hitchcock to two beautiful ladies in Romane and Monica. While Monica is very beautiful, Romane is a very sexy lady and steals many of the scenes she inhabits.

I am not sure why people think this film is convoluted as the scenes are such a perfect blend of past and present acting as a counterpoint to the characters' own remarkable journey that the film simply flows and you barely realise that 116 minutes of beauty and mystery have left the viewed enchanted and bewitched.

Like most French and European films this story would never translate across the Atlantic as no studio could capture the magic without throttling the life out of it with the Hollywood bleaching common to most movies that become lost in translation. Americans make brilliant films, but not of this type... perhaps if they let someone like a young Polanski work on it then maybe they would not totally butcher an English version...

For those who do not watch subtitled films you will spend a lifetime in ignorant bliss. For those who can read then you would be spiting yourself to miss films like this...

I would describe this as Neo-Franco-Noir, but only to cheese off the reviewer who called this film elitist. I think I saw him doing an add for four-and-twenty-pies. He thinks Romane Bohringer is a type of French Mayonnaise...It is arty in the way that Pulp Fiction is arty...but with more Gallic savoire faire...

10 out of 10 with every viewing...and has anyone got Romane's phone number...she is the perfect French Salad Dressing...

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Don't watch this with your brains turned off

9/10
Author: Ismaninb from Suriname
21 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When I watched L'Appartement with my girlfriend, she sighed: "How complicated!" And she is right, of course. When you are used to simple, one-linear plots, especially violent hero vs crook schemes, L'Appartement is hard to follow. A couple of the negative reviewers here also have missed one or more important points. Other whine about the confusing flash backs. Come on! This is not the kind of movie from which you can leave to visit the toilet, come back and get hooked again within a few seconds. This one demands full concentration and a keen eye on details. Then it is really not that hard to figure out what's happening and when. The director has left more than enough clues in all scenes.

The first 3/4 of the movie centers about the question: why did Max and Lisa split? The film, as my girlfriend remarked, begins as a romantic lovestory, suggesting that two lost lovers will find each other again. Having experience with French movies, I predicted that the story pretty soon would get a sick twist and I was right. In the end of the first part it becomes clear, after many twists and turns, that Max and Lisa were manipulated by Alice. Max did not know, that Lisa had left and why. Lisa did not know, why Max did not contact her in Rome and left her without a trace, when she returned to Paris. The only one who did was Alice and she had her own reasons to keep her mouth shut.

After both Max and Lisa have found out the truth, the question of course becomes: can Alice's manipulations be undone? Well, of course not, time has passed by and things have changed.

Many European movies use a story telling technique I fully enjoy. There is no exposition of the basic conflict in the beginning, after which two (or more) interested parties try to decide in their own advantage. Instead the spectator is gradually fed with bits and pieces of the plot and hardly knows more than the main characters. L'Appartement is a fine and subtle example of this technique. In the first half Alice seems to be a side character; slowly it becomes clear, that she is key figure.

Acting is simply great. Vincent Cassel is perfect as the somewhat naive and impulsive character, who risks a secured life just to hunt a dream from the past. Monica Belucci is very beautiful of course, but also competent. Jean Paul Ecoffey provides the necessary comical touch. Romane Bohringer is very convincing as the neurotic woman, plagued by feelings of guilt and regret.

The only reason I did not gave it a 10 is the somewhat unsatisfying end. Of course it was necessary because of the desired symmetry. After all the events Max is exactly on the point where the movie begun, only wiser and sadder. Alice has paid for her sins. But still the little twists on the airport are a bit artificial. Max too easily exchanges Lisa for Alice; Alice too easily decides to reject Max, who has been her dream for so long; Max too easily returns to his fiancée. But then again, I don't know how how this could be achieved without sacrificing the elegant symmetry. I guess sometimes artists have to give up realism for beauty.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A tangled tale worth unravelling

Author: Geofbob from London, England
17 July 2001

Stylish, erotic and complex, Gilles Mimouni's only film to date appears at first sight to be quintessentially French, but has links to American identity-themed, noirish thrillers, such as Preminger's Laura and Hitchcock's Vertigo. (I'm also not so sure as other postings that all the locations and interiors are actually Parisian; the credits indicate that a lot of the movie was made in Spain.)

Max (Vincent Cassel) is a successful, young executive, engaged to be married, who catches a fleeting glimpse of an ex-lover, Lisa (Monica Bellucci), and immediately drops plans to travel to Tokyo, in order to find her. But, instead, he finds another woman (Romane Bohringer), bearing a resemblance to Lisa, with whom he starts an affair, while still hoping to find Lisa.

The story is told in an extremely fragmented manner, jumping backwards and forwards in time, with hair-style, clothing and sometimes weather providing clues to the sequence of events. By the end of the film almost every i has been dotted, and t crossed, so that theoretically it should be possible to re-edit the movie so that it is linear. But as well as being a duller movie, this would lose what I see as one of its main themes - that memories, fuelled by imagination, can be more powerful than mundane reality. Another theme seems to be that not everybody gets what they deserve, and life can be cruel. Generally, I see the film as being bleaker and more amoral than do some IMDb postings.

The acting, camerawork, sets, music and, of course, the editing are all first rate. This is a perfect film to rent, so that baffling bits (or all) of it can be replayed.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

... has a terrific room for editing (DVD)

10/10
Author: leplatypus from PariS
11 March 2009

This sad romance is untellable because the director decides to break its narration and to offer the points of view of each characters. So, there are a lot of flashbacks, of re-shooting of the same scene. But, it would be an extraordinary moment of cinema to put all the fragments in order to see the result!

And it would worth it, because it's for me, just one the best French movie ever made!

It has everything:

Cast: first steps of Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel! Such a presence and such voices, even for a hard-of-hearing! It's symbolic for them to have fallen in love with this movie!

Directing: his camera is bright, alive, plays with the sets or can be mysterious with long close-up "à la David Lynch".

Cinematography: the light is beautiful, between gold and rust, like their love!

A never-seen before Paris: It's a Paris out-of-time of more accurately, a composite of a lot of districts! Huge search here! It's look like Gotham City, modern and old at the same time!

Music: Not the big orchestra but in perfect tune with the frames. And the song of Charles Aznavour made me discover this great singer!

Ah, … the story! As I said, it's a love story but rather tragic: Saying that love can be for nothing, that it doesn't make all people happy or isn't guaranteed for a sweet ending is great because this message isn't often told! Love is passion, which is derivative from the Latin "pain". You can suffer a lot when you are in love! Because of the Why .. ?, of the endless waiting, the lack of courage, the indecision.

And when you can ease yourself, fate, destiny, god (?), devil (?) can stab you in the back , just because you arrive too soon or too late, and above all, because love means 2 in a world of billions! A lot of things can happen and as much stories can be written! So, what's love?

Personally, I lived some moments like this: in a car with the dear one. Her mobile rings and you know it's her "special friend" whom she kisses goodbye (and not you, even if we are always together). So, you want to go out of this car to leave them together, to not hear the sweet but cruel words but you can't, because an amazing hard rain just started!

I found that this movie depicts those moments of tragedy as no one else!

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