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Inspector Gallien is investigating the rape and murder of two little girls. The only suspect is attorney Jerome Martinaud, but the evidence against him is circumstantial. As the city celebrates New Year's Eve, Gallien calls Martinaud to his office and interrogates him for hour after hour while Martinaud continues to maintain his innocence. We learn all about the evidence; we meet Martinaud's wife and learn all about the rift between the two; but will we, and Gallien, finally learn whether Martinaud is guilty?Written by
Police, investigations, murder, suspicion: we are all so acquainted with them in movies galore. Most of the films nowadays deal with crime which is believed to involve viewers, to provide them with a thrilling atmosphere. However, most of thrill lovers will rather concentrate on latest movies of that sort forgetting about older ones. Yet, it occurs that these people may easily be misled. A film entirely based on suspicion may be very interesting now despite being more than 20 years old...it is GARDE A VUE, a unique movie by Claude Miller.
Is there much of the action? Not really since the events presented in the movie take place in a considerably short time. But the way they are executed is the movie's great plus. Jerome Charles Martinaud (Michel Serrault) is being investigated by Inspector Gallien (Lino Ventura) and Insector Belmont (Guy Marchand). It's a New Year's Eve, a rainy evening and not very accurate for such a meeting. Yet, after the rape and murder of two children, at the dawn of the old year, the door of suspicion must be open at last. In other words, (more quoted from the movie), it must be revealed who an evil wolf really is. To achieve this, one needs lots of effort and also lots of emotions from both parties...
Some people criticize the script for being too wordy. Yet, I would ask them: what should an investigation be like if not many questions and, practically, much talk. This wordiness touches the very roots of the genre. In no way is this boring but throughout the entire film, it makes you, as a viewer, as an observer, involved. Moreover, the film contains well made flashbacks as the stories are being told. Not too much and not too little of them - just enough to make the whole story clearer and more interesting. The most memorable flashbacks, for me, are when Chantal (Romy Schneider), Martinaud's wife, talks about one lovely Christmas... But these flashbacks also contain the views of the places, including the infamous beach. It all wonderfully helped me keep the right pace. And since I saw GARDE A VUE, I always mention this film as one of the "defenders" of French cinema against accusations of mess and chaos.
But those already mentioned aspects may not necessarily appeal to many viewers since they might not like such movies and still won't find the content and its execution satisfactory. Yet, GARDE A VUE is worth seeing also for such people. Why? For the sake of performances. But here don't expect me to praise foremost Romy Schneider. GARDE A VUE is not Romy Schneider vehicle. She does a terrific job as a mother who is deeply in despair for a lost child. She credibly portrays a person who is calm, concrete, who does not refuse an offered cup of tea but who does not want to play with words. Her part which includes a profound talk of life and duty is brilliant, more credible than the overly melancholic role of Elsa in LA PASSANTE DE SANS SOUCI. It is still acted. However, Romy Schneider does not have much time on screen. Practically, she appears for the first time after 45 minutes from the credits; she, as a wife and a different viewpoint, comes symbolically with the New Year, at midnight. Her role is a purely supporting one. Who really rocks is Lino Ventura. He IS the middle aged Inspector Antoine Gallien who wants to find out the truth, who is aware that his questions are "missiles" towards the other interlocutor but does not hesitate. He is an inspector who, having been married three times, is perfectly acknowledged of women's psyche. He is the one who does not regard his job as a game to play but a real service. Finally, he is a person who does not find it abnormal to sit there on New Year's Eve. Michel Serrault also does a fine job expressing fear, particularly in the final scenes of the movie. But thumbs up for Mr Ventura. Brilliant!
As far as memorable moments are concerned, this is not the sort of film in which this aspect is easily analyzed. The entire film is memorable, has to be seen more than once and has to be felt with its atmosphere and, which I have not mentioned before, gorgeous music. For me, the talk of Chantal and Inspector Gallien is the most brilliant flawless moment. You are there with the two characters, you experience their states of mind if you go deeper into what you see.
GARDE A VUE is a very interesting film, a must see for thrill lovers and connoisseurs of artistic performances. New Year has turned and...is it now easier to open the door? You'll find out when you decide to see the memorably directed movie by Claude Miller. 8/10
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