Benoit Magimel

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Special Forces Review

Slick and pacey, this military thriller feels contrived as it ramps up the drama, but it has a terrific cast and a vivid sense of violent peril and political instability. The film gets increasingly worthy as it goes along, but is sharp enough to engage us.

Barely recovered from a full-on secret mission to Kosovo, the French Special Forces team (including Hounsou, Menochet, Figlarz and Marius) heads to the mountains of Pakistan, where journalist Elsa (Kruger) and her local assistant (Nebbou) have been kidnapped by wild-eyed fanatic Zaief (Degan). The team is joined on the ground by Tic-Tac (Magimel), and while the rescue goes to plan, Zaief's well-armed militia is relentless (Personnaz's sniper calls them "playful"). And getting out is trickier than these six tough guys expected.

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2011 Cannes International Film Festival - Day 2 - Sleeping Beauty - Premiere

Elodie Bouchez Thursday 12th May 2011 2011 Cannes International Film Festival - Day 2 - Sleeping Beauty - Premiere Cannes, France

Little White Lies [Les Petits Mouchoirs] Review

With echoes of The Big Chill, this epic-length French comedy-drama explores with raw honesty the relationships between a group of people in their 30s and 40s. Especially fine writing and acting really bring it to life.

After their friend Ludo (Dujardin) is injured in a crash, his friends agonise over whether they should carry on with plans for their annual month-long holiday at the seaside. As he recovers, they head off for two weeks. But his absence causes a series of ripples. The host Max (Cluzet) is becoming increasingly paranoid due to an uncomfortable revelation made by his best pal Vincent (Magimel), while their wives (Bonneton and Arbillot) have no idea what the problem is. Meanwhile, three others (Cotillard, Lellouche and Lafitte) are trying to resolve their own romantic issues.

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Little White Lies Trailer

For years it's been tradition for Max and his friend to take a yearly holiday at his beach house, this year is set to be no different until one of the group is seriously injured in a car crash. The group of old friends visit the injured Ludo in hospital and decide that they should still go ahead with their trip.

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A Girl Cut In Two Review

Quite a good portion of Claude Chabrol's tasty cocktail of romance and jealousy, A Girl Cut in Two, has gone by before you realize that, in essence, nothing much of consequence has happened. This is not a bad thing, and is more a testament to Chabrol's talent behind the camera that he's able to keep his film engaging well past the point that it should have any real right to be. It gives the film a certain drifting quality, even if one knows that something more momentous is waiting in the wings.

Chabrol, who also co-wrote the script with Cécile Maistre, based his story in some measure upon the sensational case of famous architect Stanford White's murder at Madison Square Garden's rooftop theater in 1906. A classic "murder of the century" case, the White murder had a plethora of salacious details for titillation, a number of which Chabrol cannily appropriates for his own scenario. Set in the present day in Lyon, A Girl Cut in Two seems at first like another portrait of an ennui-cloaked artiste, whose fame and fortune no longer excites him. Charles Saint-Denis (François Berléand, excellent in his understatement here just as he was in Tell No One) is an aging novelist of incomparable fame living the perfect life. He lives on a beautiful estate, is feted for his work almost nonstop, has a wife who doesn't appear to notice or care about his habitual flirting, and the money to do essentially whatever he wants. Being a famous novelist on the prowl, it doesn't take long for Saint-Denis to zero in on one of Lyon's most attractive single females, the quite young and innocently beautiful Gabrielle Deneige (Ludivine Sagnier).

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The Bridesmaid Review

At first glance, she doesn't seem like much -- maybe it's the dress. When Philippe (Benoit Magimel) -- the slim, self-satisfied, smart-but-stupid chump in Claude Chabrol's psycho-drama The Bridesmaid -- sees Senta (Laura Smet), a bridesmaid at his sister's wedding, he's intrigued by something in her direct stare and later, flirty brush-off. However, when Senta appears unannounced at the door of his mother's home (where Philippe, a mama's boy practically smothered by her constant compliments) a few hours later and then proceeds to strip off the wet dress and have her reckless way with him, he becomes positively interested. When later she starts in with all that talk about how they're fated for each other and, hey, what if they each committed a murder to prove their love, he remains interested because, well, he doesn't have much else going on in his life.

In Smet and Magimel, Chabrol has found willing partners for his bleak little tale -- like the director, they keep things under wraps, playing things close to the vest, which is harder than it may sound, given the high drama plot, taken from a Ruth Rendell novel. Philippe is a cipher straight from a detective story of years past, working as a numbers guy for a contractor in a small French town, he's completely bottled up inside his trim suits and slightly superior demeanor, just aching for something to come along and bust things up. After easing us into Philippe's life with some minor melodrama involving the three women in Philippe's house (mother, two sisters), Chabrol drops Senta in to knock Philippe out of his rut, and she's perfect for the job.

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Crimson Rivers 2: Angels Of The Apocalypse Review

There aren't many French movies that you can rightly consider as guilty pleasures, but the original Crimson Rivers, a baffling yet highly entertaining thriller that has become a cult favorite. Wish I could say as much of the sequel, which is pretty much nonsense from the first frame, as our mismatched cop heroes (Jean Reno and some other guy -- a new partner) investigate strange goings on inside a remote abbey. Before the end the mystery will entwine Nazis, amphetamine addicts, creepy dudes in robes, and, uh, the Maginot Line. Nudge me if you get it.

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The Piano Teacher Review

Older innocence collides with youthful wisdom in this slow-moving but consistently impressive and unsettling look at spinsterhood. A startlingly bland-featured Isabelle Huppert stars as the title role, a woman so tied to her obsessive mother that she has grown up with unnaturally hindered emotional reactions.

At just over two hours long, one might assume that the inner turmoil would take exhausting eye strain to build, but writer/director Michael Haneke (from a novel by Elfriede Jelinek) craftily structures a detailed, deeply disturbing environment in the first five minutes. As Professor Kohut (Huppert) comes home late one night, her mother (Annie Girardot) violently searches her purse to gain some intelligence about what she's up to. A middle-aged woman forced to answer to a parent is enough, but Haneke takes this dysfunction a step further by concentrating on physical interaction. It's far more powerful to see these two women smacking each other than giving one another the stereotypical guilt-ridden lectures other family dramas often fall back on.

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The Flower Of Evil Review

Cranking out a movie a year, Claude Chabrol is having a serious case of Woody Allen syndrome. The best thing Woody could do right now is take a break for a few years to recharge his batteries. As for Chabrol, he's been kicking around the same stately, even-handed, vaguely perverse thrillers for about 30 years (and none of his popular works ever got as good as his nasty 1969 psychodrama Le Boucher). He once again sets a moderately pleasing ambiance, in an upscale house in France's Bordeaux region, where a family keeps closely guarded secrets. As the secrets gradually come to light, one becomes aware that Chabrol is a mechanical storyteller more than an emotional one. One comes to doubt his economy of cinematic language as the last refuge of the detached and unemotional.

But The Flower of Evil remains pleasing to watch, mostly because of an attractive cast. Francois (Benoît Magimel) returns home to father Gérard (Bernard Le Coq) and stepmother Anne (Nathalie Baye). It's not long before he's set his eyes on stepsister Michèle (Mélanie Doutey), and they try to keep a lid on their boiling-over passions. They don't want skeletons coming out of the closet during Anne's mayoral campaign. But not everyone sees it that way: A telegram arrives with insidious content, and the family worries that more secrets will come out that will make their children's tête-à-tête seem minor in comparison. Enlisting their clever Aunt Line (a delightful Suzanne Flon), the children attempt to protect themselves and, if possible, cause trouble for the hateful, lustful, blandly disgusting Gérard.

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