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Viewed at the 2004 Toronto FIlm Festival World Premiere, this is a good
French film. But I have to clarify that a little, which makes it even
This movie is the first feature film of the American director. He is in love with French movies and Film Noire, so he decided to make one.
This movie is filmed in France (Paris and environs) with a French cast, in French (with English subtitles).
It is a complicated, you must pay attention, Crime Drama. The main characters are childhood friends, and now all involved in crimes from hit-men to bomb experts etc. The plot twists and turns, and you slowly learn more and more about what connects the main characters, and what makes them tick.
Very enjoyable, and a very good watch.... Enjoy... Andrew
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Halfway through "Autumn", there was a brief segment set on a beach
paying homage to my favorite film noir Yves Allegret/Jacques Sigurd's
"Une si jolie petite plage" that almost made this torturous "film
school grad" non-thriller worthwhile, but alas, it was not enough. The
pretentious director "Ra'up McGee" would have flunked had I been his
That's because he takes the hard-boiled action man thriller, which has always been one of my favorite genres, especially as I grew up idolizing Charles Bronson (the epitome of the cold, cool loner) and deconstructs it with many a mannerism and trope learned by studying the greats. Bertolucci of "The Conformist" is just one of the most obvious, but one could waste far more than the allotted IMDb space limit analyzing this, to little profit.
That's because all of McGee's gimmicks, foreshadowings, twists, turns, surprises, corny resolutions and inside jokes add up to nothing. So many hundreds of classic French thrillers exist that one doesn't need a carpetbagger to insult the tradition.
Best acting is by vet Michel Aumont as a most off-beat bad guy. He runs a restaurant named Automne, and has a habit of inflicting knife scars on nearly everybody, to make up for one he suffered early on (just watch the flashbacks and that statement won't be a spoiler, so obvious is McGee's planting of information).
Our anti-hero played stoically by Laurent Lucas, as if he had watched one too many Guy Pearce movie (think "Memento") is a hit-man/mercenary type, but then again all the characters are. This is an ice-cold universe that happens to be set in France, directed in ice-cold fashion, and leaving the viewer, cold.
The divine Irene Jacob is saddled with an unplayable role as his childhood friend, subject of innumerable ham-fisted flashbacks set in, of course, Autumn, where a traumatic experience shaped their future lives as well as that of a third pal Benjamin Rolland. Ben as Andre is an insufferable character given an insufferable performance, always available to the director to drive or stifle the forward action, and way too conveniently used as a straw man throughout the film. Had this been a studio effort from Hollywood's Golden Age, Andre would have gone through at least a dozen re-writes in order to become halfway credible, but no such luck.
And gimmicks abound throughout the narrative. The leaf motif from the Autumnal flashbacks (what reminded me most about Bertolucci's classic) is run into the ground and then revived for more connective usage -very lame. The film's most exciting (would-be that is) frisson moment is so predictable I would have bet big bucks on it, and was right. Irene's retro insistence on taking Polaroids is used for pseudo-artsy imagery, and ruined by the later dual use of the camera.
But for me, what killed this film stone-dead before the halfway mark was the director's contrivance straight out of a Bond flick, but played straight. At dozens of points in the story, an adversary is left alive (even though dealing with a stone-cold killer), merely so that person can come back to carry the story further not once, but many times over. It's like the corny ploy of so many old B-movies (including B for Bond) where the arch-villain insists on tying up the hero and lecturing him rather than killing him, so the hero can continue as our hero. Yuck!!
Similarly the MacGuffin briefcase supposedly containing a key that is the key to everything is treated in shaggy-dog story fashion. Ultimately, McGee has turned his promising (at first) cool thriller into pure Camp, but not funny Camp. No midnight movie audiences jeering at Faye Dunaway or Joan Crawford here, but rather failed pretentiousness, true Camp. The twisty climax and false endings are as phony as perhaps the show's worst character, a frail-looking half-hearted hit-lady played well (in a vain cause to save the director's bacon) by Russian actress Dinara Drukarova.
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