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The Serpent (2006)
"Le serpent" (original title)

6.5
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Reviews: 18 user | 26 critic

Fashion photographer Vincent Mandel, in the midst of a difficult divorce, is suddenly being accused of rape and extorted. What does his former classmate Joseph Plender want from him?

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Vincent
...
Plender
...
Cendras
...
Sam
Minna Haapkylä ...
Hélène
...
Sofia
Gérald Laroche ...
Becker
Jean-Claude Bouillon ...
Max
Veronika Varga ...
Catherine
Pierre Marzin ...
Carbona
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bernard Bolzinger ...
Jean-Paul
Alain Cerrer ...
Médecin Pompier
Catherine Davenier ...
Madame le juge
Ursula Deuker ...
Margritt
Ingrid Donnadieu ...
Réceptionniste Danalogic
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Storyline

A ruthless gang led by private detective Joseph Plender is extorting rich people and famous fashion photographer Vincent Mandel seems the next victim. He is married to Hélène, daughter of one of the richest people in Europe, but not quite happily. In fact the marriage is on the brink of a divorce and a judge is deciding who will take the two children. Can Hélène take them to Germany or will they stay with Vincent? Vincent has a lot on his mind and he improvises when model Sofia Kippiani comes to his studio, but his makeup crew doesn't show up. Before he knows it, he is accused of a rape. Things go worse and worse for Vincent, he sees his entire life slipping away and, most importantly, he might lose his children. But why does his former schoolmate Joseph Plender seek contact with Vincent and even solve a nasty problem for him? Does Plender want something more than money? Written by Arnoud Tiele (imdb@tiele.nl)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Vincent's life is being destroyed. Now he must find out why.

Genres:

Thriller

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Details

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Release Date:

10 January 2007 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Snake  »

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Vincent's lawyer tells him to "plea guilty". Until 2011, in France, only crimes punishable with no more than 5 years of jail were subject to the "plea guilty" procedure. After 2011, it has been extended to crimes punishable with 10 years of jail. Murder is not one of those cases. See more »

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User Reviews

Formulaic French psycho-thriller
22 July 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

"Le Serpent" refers to the snake tattooed across the back of bad guy Joseph Plender (Clovis Cornillac), a seriously mixed-up individual who traces all his problems to a childhood prank that went horribly wrong. The man he holds responsible is Vincent Mandel, a fashion photographer played by Yvan Attal. The title may also be a reference to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, though no-one could describe Vincent's life as paradise, even before the arrival of Plender. He's in the middle of a messy divorce, and the last thing he needs is a ghost from his past that could prejudice his chances of getting custody of his children.

Yvan Attal is an appealing choice for the role of Vincent. He has the range to be both vulnerable in the early scenes, and tough and resourceful as the story develops. Clovis Cornillac, as Vincent's nemesis, gives a performance that is (necessarily) more contained, but is nevertheless very effective. His most interesting scene comes when Vincent's beautiful wife (Minna Haapkyla) offers herself to him and his response is to walk off in disgust and scrub himself from head to foot.

Though the film has the ability to surprise in scenes such as this, there's no escaping the fact that this is a conventional Hollywood psychological thriller in French dressing. Plender's progression from slimy blackmailer to serial-murdering super-villain is all part of the formula for such things, as is the flight from the police, the mano-a-mano confrontation (one of them does remember to bring a gun but it's quickly lost), the false ending...

The solid performances (including comedian Pierre Richard, cast against type as a fellow victim of Plender) and some stylish direction by Eric Barbier help to compensate for the fairly predictable story. Those looking for more intelligence, originality and depth in their recent French psycho-thrillers should turn to "Caché", "Feux rouges", "Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien" and "Ne le dis à personne", to name just four examples. Each of those films will reward repeated viewings. "Le Serpent", I fear, will not.


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