The Lost Son (1999) Poster


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Well-filmed thriller, worth watching.
r-e-witt4 April 2004
It is interesting that "8MM," with a plot so similar, came out the same year. I found this film more interesting and believable and far less dark and stomach-turning. It is well-filmed and acted with some interesting locations. The tension is well-metered. I enjoyed the colorfulness of the filming. The cosmopolitan/European flavor lends a great deal. I enjoyed the music as well. I would see this film again with a friend.
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Compelling if at times uncomfortable viewing
mcdaid26 December 2001
Daniel Auteil gives a commanding performance as a French private investigator working in London following self imposed exile from Paris following the murder of his family. Making ends meet through a combination of blackmail of those involved in extra marital affairs and fees from their partners, Auteil is a weary character with little joy or passion in life, with the exception of football, and his friendship with a fellow French exile, Nathalie a high class prostitute. However when he takes on a case looking for the missing son of a wealthy industrialist, he finds himself embroiled in the sordid world of the child sex trade. A gripping story with good performances all round, especially from Auteil, this film tackles a taboo subject in a sensitive yet realistic fashion. Auteil's unorthodox methods to secure information should fill an audience with revulsion, yet in this situation, they seem entirely appropriate. Excellent if at times uncomfortable viewing.
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An excellent "Flic" - French Cop-Style Thriller
angelwild1822 April 2007
I just watched this film on DVD, and sought it out because I love Daniel Auteil's acting.

This film felt very French to me in its cinematography and overall styling, although largely London based, and shot mainly in English.

The acting throughout was excellent, perhaps with the exception of Ciaran Hinds' Brazilian/American/Irish accent! Ciaran plays the lost son's brother in law, who brings Lombard, the French private detective living in London, in to try to solve the case of the disappearance.

The film does deal with a very sensitive subject, but I felt it did so sensitively, showing how an empire can be brought down by one man, if he feels strongly enough to sacrifice everything he has.

There are some very violent scenes, and they are wholly central to the script, highlighting how low Lombard's character, is brought by his passion and anger at what horrors he has uncovered in a paedophile ring, involved in the disappearance of the lost son. Lombard makes moral decisions throughout the film that are understandable and I feel that this is a very powerful film.

The late Katrin Cartlidge puts in a very strong performance, supporting Lombard's character in his ultimate revenge plot. Lombard's "tart with a heart" best friend, Marianne Denicourt, is excellent in a stunning bitter-sweet role, and Billie Whitelaw is fabulous as the stern, businesslike matriarch, whose lost son is being sought by Lombard, and who also comes to terms with tragic loss, as Lombard also must. Auteuil, as always, is credible, beautiful and gives a very moving performance. Although it took me a few minutes to get over his English "voice"!

In my opinion, this must be one of the best international, cross-over, thrillers in recent years.
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Not as bad as I thought it was going to be
timelord-328 November 1999
Firstly, I quite enjoyed The Lost Son. I have never seen any of the films that Daniel Auteuil had been in before, so I did not go in with any preconceptions.

He was pretty good, despite his English being a bit hard to understand on occasion. It was nice to have a mix between his English and his native French when he spoke to friends from his homeland.

The story itself is a bit convoluted, but that really doesnt matter. It changes focus half way through and really is not about finding "The Lost Son", but really about his own personal revenge against the vile people who deal in the child sex industry.

I enjoyed the music by Goran Bregovic a lot, and am going to track down more of his work.

A solid 8 out of 10.
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brutal and difficult, at times, to watch--but worth it
MartinHafer13 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
First off, you need to know this is NOT a movie you should let your kids see. The subject matter of the movie is the child sex trade and there is a considerable amount of intense violence in the film. I think all but a mature audience would be pretty traumatized by the film--I know I was a bit put off by the disgusting plot initially.

Second, this film was a lot of fun for me to watch because I have seen Daniel Auteuil in many films and this was the first time I saw him acting in English and he did an excellent job. In addition, the character he played was a lot different than I was used to seeing. In Hollywood, this role might have been played by a more traditionally "macho" star--but I really think it helped to have a shorter, middle-aged and not particularly hunky guy play the role. It helped to make the plot seem more real.

As mentioned above, the plot involves child sexual abuse and the sick soul-less people who profit from buying and selling children. Auteuil plays a private detective who stumbles into this industry when searching for a missing man. But how he resolves this will either totally put you off or offer a great reward depending on your sensibilities. If you can't accept him becoming a vigilante and killing or maiming these evil people, then I suggest you don't watch the film. I admit was totally repulsed by the sexual deviants and found it very satisfying to watch them get killed--particularly the last guy. The film really manages to tap into your visceral disgust for sexual predators--and some may feel disturbed that they can ENJOY watching these men die.

About the only negative is the role played by Nastasia Kinski. Her character, at times, seems a little too shrill and annoying--almost more of a caricature than a 3-dimensional woman. Later the movie explains, in part, her over-reactions but I just felt she was a poorly developed character. However, considering she is NOT really that important to the plot, this can be overlooked.

The writing, direction and most of the acting is first-rate. Give it a try.
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An excellent mystery/drama Europic.
=G=26 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
"The Lost Son" tells the story of a French private investigator (Auteuil) working in England who is retained by a wealthy family to find their adult son which leads to an investigation into a child slavery ring. A top tier film with all that we've come to enjoy about Europics and an excellent cosmopolitan cast, "TGS" has probably garnered more negative criticism than it deserves for taking on the subject of pedophilia. If so, it's simply a sad testament to a public mentality which will laud such sensationalistic garbage as "Pulp Fiction" or "Lock, Stock..." and their horrific violence while rejecting a more real treatment of a difficult issue which was not exploitive and offered insights into an evil underground of which too few are aware. Kudos to those who brought "The Lost Son" to fruition for an excellent film which did not sensationalize or pander to the people though it had the opportunity to do so.
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Difficult subject, handled indifferently.
sibisi7317 November 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Taking a subject as controversial as paedophilia and attempting to build a routine detective story around it is prone to failure, not least because it is very easy to appear sensational and exploitative. Having said that 'The Lost Son' doesn't fall down on that count, but instead disappoints because it isn't bold enough. For two thirds of the film we have the basis of a great detective story, which only falters when the director feels the need to throw in a few heroics, and sentimentalities. When Lombard delivers the saved children, by truck, into the arms of the priest, he's almost saint-like - and it's just a bit too trite. I was also letdown by the 'twist' ending, which was totally expected.

Shot mostly on location in London, the film captures the claustrophobia and loneliness of Lombard's existence since the death of his wife and child, the catalyst for his own need to run away. Moving the action to Mexico destroys the sense of isolation and spoils the flow of the film immensely. Auteil's performance as the hard-bitten private investigator veers away from cliche because you really can believe in this man's story. He himself is a 'lost son', searching for some meaning to exorcise his own demons, and sorting out other people's problems while trying to bury his own. It is telling that his only real friend is a prostitute, and his life tends to revolve around those close to the 'business' he so ardently abhors.

'The Lost Son' isn't an easy film to watch, and doesn't deliver on all it promises, with a tendency to favour flashiness over a fleshed out story. But worth seeing, nonetheless.
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Very tough topic, well done.
billpride27 April 2003
Violence, abuse, psychological drama, and sexual predation are real, and they're portrayed shockingly here, as is appropriate. Be warned. It makes you want to become an activist or a vigilante. Where was the law? Where were the other tradtional protectors? Can it ever be prevented and will it ever end?
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Excellent detective story with an unpleasant subject matter
rimsey-228 November 1999
Daniel Auteil is perfectly cast for this role as a sleazy detective trying to escape a tragic past. Sure there are some cliche elements in the story but hey, isn't that why we come to see this sort of movie? The subject matter is grim and I was left wondering about the still-gorgeous Natassia Kinski's role in the story. I felt her character never really went anywhere. The twist at the end was really fairly predictable but nevertheless at its best this movie reminded me of Chinatown.
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The French P.I.
jotix1006 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Xavier Lombard, a Frenchman, has been living in London after his life was altered by the assassination of his wife and daughter in a horrible car explosion aimed to kill him, as well. He had gone mad, after the tragedy. He left France because he needed a change of pace. He is now a private detective. His old pal, Carlos De Moraes, a Brazilian former colleague, comes to him with a proposal. Xavier is asked by Carlos' wife Deborah Spitz, and her parents, to track down her brother who has mysteriously disappear from the face of the world.

The investigation takes Xavier to the missing man's girlfriend, Emily, who meets him with suspicion, aiming a shotgun at him. She has reasons for the hostility, she is caring for Shiva, a boy rescued by the missing man because he was being used for unscrupulous sexual purposes, leaving the boy speechless. Shiva can only mutter a name: "The Austrian" as the man that got him into sexual slavery. Xavier decides to consult with his friend, Nathalie, a French prostitute, because her contacts in the British underworld.

Nathalie puts Xavier in contact with what turned out to be a pedophile ring operating among London's elite. His investigation takes him deeply into the gang's territory, even going as far into Mexico to get to the root of how the children are taken away to be groomed for what they in turn will become. A lot of money is at stake. Xavier's finding will reveal who the real mastermind is, something that will stun him.

Chris Menges, a distinguished cinematographer himself, directs the film. Written by Marie and Eric Leclere with Mark Mills, this is a thriller adventure that holds the viewer's suspense because it is credible. The insidious work of pedophiles amazes Xavier, having suffered the loss of a daughter himself. The production was photographed by Barry Ackroyd, the Oscar winning cinematographer for "The Hurt Locker". The music score is by Boran Bregovic.

Daniel Auteuil, a wonderful French actor, shows courage accepting to appear as the star of this film. Even though his accent is a bit thick, he manages to portray the man at the center of the action. Not being associated with this type of genre, he does well in a film that takes him away from his usual roles in France. The late Katrin Cartlidge appears as Emily. Marianne Denicourt does an excellent Nathalie, and Natassja Kinski plays the grieving sister of the disappeared man. Ciaran Hinds makes the most of his Carlos De Moraes.
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Enjoyable tense drama with a disturbing subject matter.
juandorte6 July 2002
Saw this film late night on cable. The story really draws you in. Enjoyable tense drama with a disturbing subject matter. Daniel Auteuil does a very believable job as the private investigator caught up in a case deeper and darker than he expected. A tad predictable at the end but over all a good film.
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An atmospheric metaphysical thriller which explores the themes of loss and entrapment with power and sensitivity.
mariogiannini23 May 2001
Auteuil is magnificent as the French loner who has somehow become a lost soul among the shadows of London's West End. The private detective, who discovers the cracks in his own life though an investigation that leads him through the seedy underworld of the child prostitution trade, takes us through the shoking stages of his discovery with much suspense. One of the best modern detective stories to have been filmed in London for many years and a film that deserves much better attention than it got when first released.
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Complex and sometimes slow, but intriguing, and Daniel Auteuil is good!
secondtake3 March 2012
The Lost Son (1999)

All the elements are here for a classic noir-inspired investigation movie where no one is to be trusted and our leading man is a likable, steady, world weary paradigm. If you are familiar with "The Big Sleep" with Bogart and crew, you might actually get a sense of what this movie is trying to do. Not only does the plot begin in a similar way, with a rich family saying one of their members (the son) is missing and with the daughter being a steamy and somewhat unreliable secondary force (played by Nastassja Kinski), but then the rest of the movie proceeds to get increasingly confusing.

In "The Big Sleep" this is almost a positive thing, making it fast, visual, and experiential (meaning you get sucked into the world and can't stop looking and trying to keep up). Here, in "The Lost Son," it isn't what anyone would call fast, which hurts it because the complexity builds and the suspicions fester with lots of lulls, either whole short scenes that don't seem quite necessary or with an editing that makes every little cut one or two seconds too long. Which adds up to a kind of pace some people might like, a loitering and inhabiting this strange little nether world the movie creates. But for me it just made me fuzz out a little.

The leading detective, Xavier Lombard, is played by the really compelling French actor, Daniel Auteuil. He carries the movie even through it's pauses. Besides Kinski, whose role is small (and thankfully, really--she doesn't really "act" so much as say her lines), there is a second male lead, the Irish actor Ciaran Hinds, who is quite good. (He had a terrific role in the peculiar and enjoyable "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.") And the filming is rather nice, with a huge range of scenes and moods, held together not only by the camera-work, but the solid directing by Chris Menges.

There will be an odd feel to this film for some American viewers, because it's an increasingly common hybrid of French and British filmmaking--language, crew, cast, and locations all spread out from one side of the Channel to the other. It's nicely European, but less of that familiar "British" film that many people know (or know without knowing they know it, looking vaguely like Hollywood). In short, this has a slightly fresh look. It does not however feel as new or odd or wonderful as some of the detective crime films coming out of, say, Scandinavia, among the European types.

This matters only in that half of the film is its atmosphere. The plot and some of the core acting could use a bolstering and maybe even a sense of necessity at times (the movie just keeps going through its attractive paces), but in all, it might even be a film you'd enjoy more the second time. Which says a lot.
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a taut thriller
fookoo12 August 2003
Daniel Auteuil is the lead actor of this film and successfully carries the entire movie. Unfortunately, Nastassja Kinski, billed second, does not receive much screen time and probably could have mailed in her performance because it wasn't very demanding of her considerable skills. As another reviewer wrote: a total waste of her talent. I would suspect that she got the billing to help sell the movie and that was the only reason that I watched it. There is a very secondary role played by Billie Whitelaw, a British actress from the 1960's that I remembered from the Terry-Thomas movie, Make Mine Mink. The movie is gripping, if one buys into it, and the tension is palpable and never lets one go.
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" Enter the dark world of danger invites your best friend. What can possibly happen? "
thinker169129 April 2012
This is a film called " The Lost Son. " It was interestingly directed by Chris Menges, and written by a trio of writer led by Eric Leclere. Although this story begins in London, it travels to several world locations. The hero of the movie is Xavier Lombard, (Daniel Auteuil) a soccer playing, chain smoking, Parisian Private Investigator, now living in London, England. He is visited by an old police friend named Carlos (Ciaran Hinds) who invites him to take an 'open and shut, missing person's case' primarily for the money. Lombard begins his search for the missing son, only to discover it involves a child prostitution ring, which put's his life in grave danger and reminds him of an unsolved case which took the life of his wife and daughter. The movie is a dark and sober reminder of the hidden world we live in and despite the exotic locations, serves to illustrate the unsavory elements which most of the world continues to ignore. Among the cast is Nastassja Kinski and Bruce Greenwood who is a surprising and interesting heavy. The movie is slow to develop, but with cinematic patience, one is treated to real gem and eventually a Classic for Greenwood. ****
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A glass of Chateuavallon
paul2001sw-125 August 2004
In the 1980s, a trans-national consortium of broadcasters got together to make 'Chateauvallon', a "Eurosoap"; but the drama always seemed clunky and constructed around the need to explain the presence of the cosmopolitan cast. There's a similar flavour to 'The Lost Son', a London-set drama in which one can hear just about every accent except Cockney: it's strange, when so many foreigners speak English so well, that the characters in this film all speak it so badly. As a thriller, 'The Lost Son' is predictable and shallow, eschewing some measure of Hollywood slickness but without anything much to put in its place. Two performances stand out: Marianne Dennicourt is gorgeous, but the late Katrin Cartlidge steals the show, her role is small but her performance flashes with an electric truthfulness sadly absent elsewhere in this film.
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Only one reason to see this film...
victor775422 September 2001
To know that these type of child sex operations exist and should be put down. You have to look away at times because it is very effective in suggesting what is taking place. To make us aware of such acts has to be the only reason to make this film. Any other reason would be a foolish perverted act.

The film is not fun nor is it that good but it has some moments of suspense and we enjoy the bad guys getting what they deserve. The child urinating was a bit over the top. Auteuil wears a weary expression. His character is not that exciting but he grows on you somewhat. The rest of the actors seem awkward and once again Nastassja Kinski was wasted.

Films like this leave me feeling like the end is near for us all.
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Clouseau does edgy
ikanboy15 May 2013
Daniel Auteuil steps out from his native French and is immediately swimming against the tide in this film noire set inexplicably in England but with mostly foreign actors. I like Auteuil, when he's doing French movies but here his accent and rather high voice just sets the mood off. I guessed in the second half hour who the bad guy was, so it was just a question of when our hero would, but not before traveling to Mexico to watch Bruce Greenwood strangle a German accent in a performance I am sure he regrets. With French writers and a British Director what could go right? It's not a bad movie just a movie with the wrong actors in the wrong setting.
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Serious topic but far too shallow movie
botev19211 February 2013
I always give movies higher grades when after having seen them I realize how long they were. This one might be too shallow to really captivate the audience, but was not in any case boring or banal. The acting is pretty solid and compensate for the lack of cohesion between the central theme and the path of development of both storyline and characters. It tries to be dark like some other typical European thrillers and it achieves the effect most of the time. Unfortunately it is too predictable and does not leave anything to the imagination. Still, with very few movies dealing with this uncomfortable topic for filmmakers, it is nice to see a movie such as this being out there for people to see.
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There isn't much to see here; a decent ground-level detective thriller which looses its way and somewhat falls apart nearer the end.
johnnyboyz22 September 2011
I like to think that I have time for a film about a guy whom, whilst on the verge of busting a paedophilia ring, is so into his sports that just prior to undertaking such a daring mission he takes time to watch live coverage of an FA Cup football match on his hotel room's television set. So many thrillers are indebted to the nullified routine and agonised spectacle of it all that they may as well be played out by robots. The films forget that human-beings, made up of flesh and blood, are at the core of any film; human's with thoughts, feelings and, in the case of The Lost Son, interests and hobbies. Amongst other things, this guy's hobby is following football, and he takes most chances he gets out of his busy schedule to enforce such a thing. Alas, I didn't eventually come to have an awful lot of time for The Lost Son; the film an investigative drama in the mould of those old private eye stories which sadly mutates away from its fun and engaging beginning and into that of an espionage-come-international thriller: where it starts as Chandler does modern day multiethnic London, it ends up phoned in dramatics involving twists and whatnot that we find it difficult to take to.

Daniel Auteuil plays Xavier Lombard, a private investigator who's left France to live in London; a man specialising in surveillance and detection for clients whom want someone found or watched. We garner he speaks English and Italian on top of his native language, and eventually wonder how a nice guy gets mixed up in such a racket – the early scenes establishing his character doing a job which sees him keep tabs on a some sleazy infidelities, before approaching the guilty party to warn them their partner's onto them. "I've just saved your marriage" he tells them, without dropping them in it post-warning. Lombard, despite smoking, enjoys the physicality of life; he plays football, badly, and gets knocked about by his English opponents (revenge comes at home when he places a 'shipwrekced' submarine sporting the Union Jack at the bottom of his fish tank) and is persistently out-jogged when out jogging. A fairly popular guy, his one other friend is a local call-girl named Natalie (Denicourt) and she's responsible for the film's best line when she notices one of her earlier male clients down the row at a nice restaurant they're dining at. "I think you just ruined his evening...." quips Lombard; "Ah yes....", she replies, "....but earlier on I made his day".

It is the Spitz family whom come to Lombard with a job possessing the capacity to hurtle him down a grossly different route; his eventual uncovering of a child trafficking organisation the forcing of him into confronting, indeed repenting, for his inability to successfully save his own son whom died in a car wreck years ago. But that comes later, much later; the decent parts of the film arriving first when it is revealed Leon, a family member to that of the Spitz's, is missing and Lombard is dutifully called to find him again. This leads him onto a trek through London and eventually to Mexico, by way of Suffolk, of course, after some decent cause and effect early on that leads him to a rather sordid place more broadly linked to paedophilia that I did not expect the film to go.

I like to think that had The Lost Son been made fifty or so years prior to its actual production date, it might have started with an establishing shot of a piece of city iconography before cutting closer, and closer still, to a small building plus-office-inside that's actually situated on a studio back-lot. Within this office you would find the wily investigative lead with his name printed on the glass section of his door and the neighbouring buildings, plus their exterior, vaguely on show through the window which he always sits with his back toward. Perhaps the guy would have a bit of a drinking problem, something deeply affecting in the past driving him to such a place, but he'd almost always be as just cynical as he is good at going about his business – drinking problems rarely stopped these people succeeding.

Chris Menges' film is not a picture of decades ago, it is a picture of near-enough now; times have changed and the lead in The Lost Son is allowed a tragic back-story, but this does not lead to a drinking problem - on the contrary, he is fit and athletic; he is allowed to have people meet with him and ask him to find item "x", but must do so in a large suite to a luxury hotel. Change can be good fun; hybridisation and post-modernity are fine, in moderation, whilst I'm not against the developing of ground genres if it means shifting film noir into an era of "neo" noir, but by this point, I wished the film had placed these proverbial cards on the table nearer the beginning and just given our guy a drinking habit. It is during the early segments that we enjoy the film the most; the first acts then descending into hogwash of the most mundane sort as nearer the end as he zip off abroad sand the film bolts from its genre foundations stable to head for the big, wide world; a sub-Licence to Kill espionage thriller no where near making use of its ground substance that 2002's Dirty Pretty Things would later go on to explore tautly and effectively in its depiction of a sordid, multi-racial base of operations in an affluent part of England's capital city. There are workmanlike traits about The Lost Son, and a good lead performance, but we dislike and find the shattering of his world just as unpleasurable as he eventually does.
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A routine crime drama
tim-764-29185622 November 2010
Daniel Auteuil has so often blessed us with his shrewd, canny and ultimately modern version of what a typically French man is like today. Not the guachely bombastic Depardieu or the suavity of the leading men of the New Wave era.

Unfortunately, Xavier (Auteuil), playing a private eye doesn't really fit into any particular type and neither the script nor he, is individual enough to make him stand out. At least we had Morse, or Wallander to make us want to watch it, when it ran a little slow.

The Lost Son, to my mind, plays more like a TV crime drama; gritty, topical but covering too much ground, and a cast with too much variety for the script to flesh out their characters. There's been a fair few French thrillers recently (though this was released 11 years ago) that seem to be basic thrillers.

The story is wholesome enough, even if the subject of it isn't and is told in a workmanlike fashion. As the film ended, I couldn't help thinking that as a taster, some inkling of the outcome should be in the opening scene and then it all be told in flashback. As it is, the unfolding is quite slow and laborious, especially for a modern audience.
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Private eye gets drawn into the dreadful world of the paedophile.
brokm26 July 2000
The Lost Son I found to be quite gripping in its first half as we slowly come to the edges of the appalling world the Auteuil character uncovers. The sense of horror we would all feel were we to found ourselves in his situation is well built only to fall apart in the film's latter half. Here there is a sense of the director racing to beat the clock with unlikely action being piled upon even more unlikely action. Shame really - I'm a great fan of Auteuil and I'm sorry his first English film was not better than it is.
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Absolutely appalling film that shouldn't have been made!
pen-1329 September 1999
This film is just too painful to watch, save for Daniel Auteuil who held his own in a sea of bad script, bad direction and bad editing. The story is too convoluted, the characters are not in the least interesting except for the 'gumshoe', the acting thoroughly mediocre, and this is unfortunate given that there are some fine actors (women included) in the cast. What happened exactly to the whole project?
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Not disturbing, but disappointing
celepod10 February 2002
For Daniel Auteuil, `Queen Margot' was much better. For Nastassja Kinski, `Paris, Texas' was much better. The biggest disappointments were from Chris Menges (`CrissCross' and `A World Apart' cannot even be compared with this one), and Goran Bregovic for use of a version of the same musical theme from `Queen Margot' for this movie (Attention to the end of the film). If this was an American pop movie, I would not feel surprised at all; but for a European film with more independent actors and director, a similar common approach about child abuse with no original insight is very simple-minded and disappointing. There are those bad guys who kidnap and sell the underage people. There are those poor children who hate people selling them and wait to be saved by someone. And finally, there is that big hero who kills all the bad guys and saves these poor children from bad guys. Every character is shown in simple black and white terms: the good versus the evil. Plus, from the very beginning, I could understand how the story would end. Is this the end of the history of child sexual abuse? I believe that the difficult issue of child molestation and paedophilia is much more complex than how it is portrayed in this not very original movie. I think this movie was not disturbing, but very disappointing.
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Dirty Harry Lives (Spoilers)
Tresy13 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This forgettable bit of vigilantist drivel takes the hot-button topic du jour--child porn--and uses it to flog the audience's basest emotions. There is nothing in this film--nothing--that we haven't seen before: the PI running from his past, the corrupt cop, slimy bad guys, wide-eyed innocent naifs, etc., etc. They even recycle Ciaran Hinds role as the pedarast cop in Prime Suspect 3--a far, far better treatment of the same subject matter.

All in all, proof that foreign films can be just as cyniccally manipulative as the most meretricious Hollywood dreck.
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