Mathieu, a piano virtuoso, goes home to help his brother Paul to take care of their sick mother. Paul is into reenacting old battles, dressing up and getting into character, even dueling if necessary. Mathieu gets involved in this world and play becomes real. Written by
As this story opens, we watch a group of what appears cavalry hussars from the past. Two men are going to engage in a duel because of an offense was taken by one of the swordsmen. The combat ends as one of the men is wounded in the arm. Suddenly, without a warning, we are taken to the present as we watch a Parisian pianist tutoring a younger man in an intricate piece.
What is really going on? Where does all go? Well, we soon find out. The pianist is Mathieu, a notable concert and recording artist who is in the process of making a separation from Jeanne, his wife, who also happens to be his agent. The excuse given to their little son is that papa is performing in Japan. Mathieu takes refuge at his mother Claire's house where his brother Paul shares it with her.
Paul is a man that has not much to show for himself. He works in a factory where he makes a modest living. Their mother Claire is suffering from a form of cancer and is bedridden. The mystery of the old hussars we saw at the start of the story is solved. Paul belongs to a strange group, a sort of club where men reenact the glory days of the Napoleonic era. Mathieu, unwillingly is drawn into the group by Paul.
Little prepares Mathieu, or the viewer for what is in store. At a banquet where all the men, and their women, come together at a stately place, to celebrate their loyalty to Napoleon, the Emperor. Mathieu manages to offend a man, Capt. Deprees, who takes it seriously wanting to teach the offender a lesson in courage and integrity in a duel that serves as the venue for reparation.
Director Denis Dercourt, whose "The Page Turner" impressed us when it first came out, gives his audience a different kind of film as he mixes the glory days of the Empire with present day reverence for an era of splendor in France. It is a film whose suspense keeps the viewer guessing in how will this tale end. Mr. Dercourt's love for classical music as in that other earlier film, shows in the selections that are prominently heard in the film.
Vincent Perez makes an enigmatic Mathieu, although one never clearly understands what might have been the cause of his "existential crisis" that his wife mentions. Mr. Perez gives a nuanced performance, equally matched by Jeremy Renier, another excellent actor that is always welcome into anything he plays. Anne Marivin plays Jeanne, Mathieu's wife and Aurelien Recoing appears as Capt. Deprees.
Wonderful cinematography by Remy Chevrin works well in both present day action as well as those candlelit interiors that reenact a bygone era. The film by Denis Dercourt is recommended to audiences looking for entertainment as well as an intriguing premise.
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