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The Big Picture (2010)
"L'homme qui voulait vivre sa vie" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  12 October 2012 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 2,651 users   Metascore: 71/100
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Paul Exben is a success story - partner in one of Paris's most exclusive law firms, big salary, big house, glamorous wife and two sons straight out of a Gap catalog. But when he finds out ... See full summary »



(scenario, adaptation and dialogue), (scenario, adaptation and dialogue), 4 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Ruf ...
Grégoire Kremer
Enzo Caçote ...
Hugo Exben
Luka Antic ...
Fiona Exben (as Rachel Berger)
Esteban Carvajal-Alegria ...
Valéry Grey (as Esteban Carvajal Alegria)
Florence Muller ...
Jean-Paul Bathany ...
Carole Weiss ...
Philippe Dusseau ...
Olivier Rogers ...


Paul Exben is a success story - partner in one of Paris's most exclusive law firms, big salary, big house, glamorous wife and two sons straight out of a Gap catalog. But when he finds out that Sarah, his wife, is cheating on him with Greg Kremer, a local photographer, a rush of blood provokes Paul into a fatal error. Standing over the corpse of his wife's lover, Paul knows that his perfect life has gone for good. But by assuming the dead man's identity and fleeing for an isolated part of former Yugoslavia on the beautiful Adriatic coast, Paul gets another shot at being himself and, at last, seeing the big picture. Written by The Film Catalogue

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

12 October 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Em Busca de Uma Nova Vida  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$13,760 (USA) (12 October 2012)


$158,411 (USA) (14 December 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


As Paul watches from the shore, the sound and light from the explosion of his sailboat (on the horizon), reach him nearly simultaneously. At the height Paul was sitting, the horizon was roughly 5 miles away and the sound would take over 20 seconds to reach him, while the light would reach him almost instantly. See more »


Paul Exben: What are you doing here?
Bartholomé: I'm sorry, I was in the mood for a little beer.
Paul Exben: Anyone else, besides me, likes beer.
Bartholomé: Sure, anyone else likes it, but I wanted to have a drink with you.
See more »


Fly to the Moon
Written by Aaron Wheeler / Jayme Tovey
Editions Juice Music - K Music
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User Reviews

A man forced to be what he really wanted to be, sort of. A photographic thriller.
22 September 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Big Picture (2010)

Terrific vibes here, and a euphoric basic idea of a man getting out of a troubled situation and going for broke, for happiness. Literally, and spiritually.

First there is the set-up: a happy, charming, positive Paul Exben (played by the cheerful French actor Romain Duris). He's got an unhappy, negative wife and a kid who loves him and an infant who doesn't know what he wants (except to cry a lot). He's a photographer in the new manner, using high tech computers and high end printers. He loves being who he is, and is very successful financially.

But the wife is bitter and unyielding. Things are going to go wrong and they do. Exactly how (involving another photographer, a man who is very old school with a darkroom and enlarger) is partly what the movie is about, and the surprise is one of its peaks. Then the movie takes some amazing turns.

I say amazing but really there is a lot of incredulity built in. Would Paul Exben really go so far? Wasn't there a simpler solution (many of them)? If the end goal really was to "start over" in a manner of speaking, wouldn't there be ways of doing that and not sabotaging everything else? Maybe not, but then we should have been set up better for all the implications.

The movie's original title is "L'homme Qui Voulait Vivre Sa Vie," or "The Man Who Wanted to Live His Life." That's sooooo much better and more compelling. And that's what the movie is about. But the English title reminds us that photography, and this photographer, are central to it all, and I'm a photographer. I've been that old school type (by necessity) for decades and still have an enlarger (and a university darkroom) at my fingertips. But I have also moved almost completely into new school photography with inkjet printing and such.

I have to say, this movie made me want to get back in the darkroom. Not that there are scenes that romanticize that. More that there are lots of flaws and mistakes in pointing out the differences. Our man Exben ends up ditching his fancy Canon gear and getting an old Nikon film camera and a couple of lenses. Then he starts to print, rediscovering his roots. And then on his darkroom wall are some color prints--absolutely impossible with some trays as shown. And pretty much not possible period these days. Yet his new direction in color is what takes his career new places. I found the photography stuff annoying and enchanting, both. If you're not into the field, you'll probably just like the enchantment part. Never mind the far too easy gallery luck near the end.

But the movie is about what the French title suggests--and here it falters, too. Is this a man who is really living his life? In some obvious ways yes. But the existential drama could have (and should have?) taken this far deeper. By the final scenes where our man is photographing a horrifying event from a distance (and then sells some illogically close-up photos of the event to a publisher) we get a sense that he is truly dedicated. But also a bit lost. An opportunist. A man who accepts being trapped by circumstance.

In a way, this is a movie waiting to be remade. It wouldn't take much to make it a classic look at the human condition, with some attractive hooks along the way. What we have isn't so bad, but it offers more than it delivers.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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