Set in France at the end of World War II Albert Dehousse finds out his father wasn't a war hero and his mother is a collaborator. He leaves his wife and goes to Paris. Gradually he ... See full summary »
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Set in France at the end of World War II Albert Dehousse finds out his father wasn't a war hero and his mother is a collaborator. He leaves his wife and goes to Paris. Gradually he inveigles himself with the resistance movement. They trust him and he helps them trace collaborators. Written by
David Morgans <email@example.com>
Impostors and make-believes have always been favorites of story tellers all over the globe, and there are quite a few movies about them. This biopic/mockumentary (with old war veteran's interviews!) is one of the very best, and you enjoy wondering how much truth is in the story long after the movie is over. I guess quite much of it.
The "hero" of the story is a very endearing person. The viewer gets to know him as a boy who grows up in fairly conventional circumstances. From the earliest days he lives between reality and fantasy. His acting out adventure stories he had read by himself in his small room in the attic is moving, it reminded me of my own childhood. The "hero" is naive and shrewd at the same time, and his rising in the military hierarchy of post war France as an alleged resistance hero is a fairy tale you can believe very easily. The hero's downfall is at first sight tragic but, on second thought, might also have been carefully planned by him. Well, he lived on happily ever after, they say.
The acting is very good, Mathieu Kassovitz proves to be an excellent performer who brings the ambiguity in the hero's character to life and gives him credibility, the child actor who plays the hero as a boy is equally convincing. Some secondary parts are worth remembering: There is a very non-stereotypical homosexual, a French army officer who makes a pass at the "hero" and, as there is no response to his advances, starts a lasting platonic friendship with him, teaching him in a fatherly way in the art of make believe. After becoming an officer of the secret service, the "hero" is transferred to Germany. There he resides in a spacious palace, waited on by an old uniformed German butler. Movie buffs will possibly recognize it as a parody of Erich von Stroheim in Renoir's "La Grande Illusion" (he teaches the socially unexperienced "hero" the waltz).
The movie is so good, I expect to see an American remake in the near future. To whoever will try to tackle the subject transatlantically, I recommend Preston Sturges' "Hail the Conquering Hero!".
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