Clara is happily married to a promising lawyer and lives in Paris. After the sudden death of her mother, Clara has to assume responsibility for her younger sister Lily, whose extreme sensitivity makes her vulnerable.
Gus (played by Guillaume Canet) suffers from narcolepsy. He falls asleep all the time and has dreams about supermen from comics (Van Damme would play one of these supermen, a short & secret appearance).
"Ni Pour, Ni Contre" tracks the fall of a young TV camerawoman, Caty, after she becomes involved with a group of petty criminals and their enigmatic leader, Jean. The gang lives hand-to-mouth until the day Jean plans a daring bank robbery. Although other gang members feel out of their league, Jean persuades them to take part and Caty finds herself in a hellish world of betrayal, violence and murder. Written by
Cedric Klapisch is one of those curious directors who clearly has a lot of talent but rarely makes particularly good films. Certainly Ni Pour, Ni Contre (Bien Au Contraire) is the kind of film it's easy to film to be ambivalent about - it's too well made to hate but at the end of the day too average to love. Marie Gillain is the bland, bored TV camerawoman who drifts into crime and discovers her bad side after being hired to record a robbery by Vincent Elbaz's crook (why we never find out). Finding a surrogate family with his second/third generation immigrant gang (Zinedine Soualem, Simon Abkarian and Dimitri Storoge) the first half of the film has a good time showing them living the good life with a couple of none-too-subtle nods to Goodfellas along the way, but the money runs out and as it does the inevitable big job to set them up for life beckons just as inevitably as it will all go wrong in the last reel. To be fair the film does a fairly decent job at deglamourising them and showing how small and frustrated their lives can be when they can't buy a slice of the high life, but the botched heist and its aftermath still feels as if it belongs to a different movie. It's not quite a crime does not pay moral, more that crime does pay if you're prepared to throw morality to the wind and be more ruthless than your friends, but that doesn't stop it all feeling too generic: the heist goes wrong and people die because that's what's expected to happen in this kind of movie. The performances are all good, the characters well drawn and Klapisch has an incredible eye for the scope frame that ensures some great visuals - the Carlton Hotel in Cannes has never looked so striking - yet it's never enough to hide the fact that behind the style and professionalism there's not a great deal of substance and nothing we haven't seen before many times. Not great, not bad, but on the other hand worth a look if you're in an undemanding mood.
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