Michel Duchaussoy

Michel Duchaussoy

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Sarah's Key Trailer


In the present day, New York journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to work on an article about the Vel'd'Hiv Roundup of Jews by French authorities in 1942. Julia and her French husband, Bertrand, move to an apartment in Paris, where a Jewish family, the Starzynski's, once lived, until they were rounded up.

Continue: Sarah's Key Trailer

Sarah's Key [Elle S'appelait Sarah] Review


Excellent
Framing a harrowing story as an investigative mystery, this film carries a powerful emotional punch but never pushes the sentimentality. It also gives Scott Thomas yet another remarkable role to sink her teeth into.

Julia (Scott Thomas) is an American journalist living in Paris with her husband Bertrand (Pierrot) and their teen daughter (Hin). As they remodel Bertrand's family flat in the Marais, Julia is working on a story for her magazine about Parisian families who in 1942 were deported to Nazi camps in the most hideous conditions. Then one story catches her eye because it is linked to the flat.

And she starts to dig around, talking to Bertrand's father (Duchaussoy) and grandmother (Casadesus) to get to the truth.

Continue reading: Sarah's Key [Elle S'appelait Sarah] Review

Mesrine: Public Enemy No 1 Review


Excellent
Picking up where Killer Instinct left off, this second part of the biopic has a 1970s style, with grittier edges and darker violence. But it takes the same anecdotal approach, never quite letting us in.

In 1973, rampant criminal Jacques Mesrine (Cassel) has finally been captured by the cops but stages a daring courtroom escape with the help of his pal Charlie (Lanvin). He's soon back to his bank-robbing, executive-kidnapping ways, taunting the tenacious detective Broussard (Gourmet) even when he's arrested.

In prison he concocts an elaborate escape with fellow inmate Besse (Amalric), and the two go on another brazen crime-spree, meeting Mesrine's next wife Sylvie (Sagnier) along the way. But as Mesrine adopts the politics of Germany's Baader-Meinhof gang, the cops are closing in.

Continue reading: Mesrine: Public Enemy No 1 Review

Mesrine: Killer Instinct [L'Instinct de Mort] Review


OK
Edgy and rough, this is the first half of an energetic biopic about one of France's most notorious criminals. And with a riveting performance by Cassel at the centre, it's definitely worth seeing, even if it never really gets beneath the skin.

Jacques Mesrine (Cassel) is educated in brutality while serving as a soldier in Algeria. With his charismatic personality, he falls into a life of crime with the vicious mobster Guido (Depardieu). While fiercely protective of his Spanish wife Sofia (Anaya), he engages in nasty acts of vengeance and, after a stint in prison in 1962, finds a new wife Jeanne (DeFrance). They embark on a Bonnie & Clyde-style crime spree, travelling from Montreal to Arizona with the officials on their tail. But the Canadian prison can't hold him either.

Continue reading: Mesrine: Killer Instinct [L'Instinct de Mort] Review

Intimate Strangers Review


Excellent
Seeking therapy is one thing; this is something else. What starts out as a therapy session gone wrong because of a mistaken door is really a study in purposeful cinematic misdirection to create a case of sexual intrigue capable of raising eyebrows in its country of origin. It's also the French answer to Steven Shainberg's 2002 adventure into obsession, Secretary.

William Faber (Fabrice Luchini) inherited his office and accounting practice in a staid Parisian building from his accountant father, carrying on a family occupation. Life for him is methodical, predictable, full of numbers -- which he enjoys enough to have made a career out of crunching them for a loyal clientele. Some people thrive on consistency and repetition.

Continue reading: Intimate Strangers Review

The Widow of Saint-Pierre Review


Excellent
Based on a true story, The Widow of Saint-Pierre is a surprisingly effective French period piece that spins a timeless tale of love and compassion.

In 1849, we find ourselves on a French island colony near the Canadian coast, a cold and inhospitable land with few inhabitants. In a night of drunkenness, Auguste (Emir Kusturica) and his friend kill a local man. Auguste is sentenced to die. The only problem -- there's no guillotine on the island, and no executioner either.

Continue reading: The Widow of Saint-Pierre Review

Intimate Strangers Review


Excellent
Seeking therapy is one thing; this is something else. What starts out as a therapy session gone wrong because of a mistaken door is really a study in purposeful cinematic misdirection to create a case of sexual intrigue capable of raising eyebrows in its country of origin. It's also the French answer to Steven Shainberg's 2002 adventure into obsession, Secretary.

William Faber (Fabrice Luchini) inherited his office and accounting practice in a staid Parisian building from his accountant father, carrying on a family occupation. Life for him is methodical, predictable, full of numbers -- which he enjoys enough to have made a career out of crunching them for a loyal clientele. Some people thrive on consistency and repetition.

Continue reading: Intimate Strangers Review

May Fools Review


OK
Louis Malle's farce has a gaggle of Frenchies bickering over an inheritance, all while the 1968 student uprisings are occurring around the oblivious relatives. Occasionally random storytelling gets in the way of an otherwise light and fun film. And who doesn't love that Miou-Miou!?

Continue reading: May Fools Review

This Man Must Die Review


Extraordinary
Possibly Claude Chabrol's finest work, a dark, moody, and endlessly compelling look at a hit and run that takes the life of a young boy. His father (Michel Duchaussoy), a writer of children's books, embarks on a crusade to find and murder the driver. Midway through the film, he finally does find his man, only to discover his family hates him just as much as our hero does! Capturing his violent thoughts in a diary, it becomes the only evidence against him when the deed is finally done -- but who really did the crime? It happens off camera, and the answer is vague. Two people end up confessing. We never quite found out who's telling the truth. Wrestling over it in your mind will give you a headache, but it's a pain that hurts good.

Continue reading: This Man Must Die Review

Amen. Review


Weak

Relentlessly heavy-handed but quite compelling nonetheless, "Amen" is a loosely fact-based drama about a German SS officer's clandestine attempts to stem the Holocaust, and about the complaisance he encountered when trying to alert the world -- and more specifically the Vatican.

Adapted in part from the eyewitness accounts written by Nazi lieutenant and chemist Kurt Gerstein (played by Ulrich Tukur) while in a French prison after World War II, the film asks the question, What's a newly-advanced Nazi with a conscience to do when exposed to the horror of Jews being gassed by the thousands with chemicals he's been ordered to provide?

In "Amen," the answer is that he confides in a fictionalized, idealistic young priest (Mathieu Kassovitz) with direct connections to Pope Pius XII, so cowriter-director Costa-Gavras can get the pontiff on record saying nothing more than "My heart prays for the victims," while his cardinals deflect follow-up questions.

Continue reading: Amen. Review

The Widow Of St Pierre (La Veuve De Saint-Pierre) Review


OK

It's been a week since I saw "The Widow of St. Pierre," and I'm still a little frustrated with it.

I was effectively drawn in to the story, about the wife of a 19th Century French commandant who befriends a death row prisoner in her husband's charge and champions the cause of sparing his life. The story takes emotionally-hooking twists as -- while waiting for a guillotine to arrive from France so the man can be legally executed -- the people of the barren, wintry island of St. Pierre (apparently off the coast of Newfoundland) become so attached to the gentle criminal that no one is willing to act as his executioner.

As you can glean from the title, there are tragic results. What sticks in my craw is the fact that the blame rests with the widow herself (played with poignant, fervent, impulsive intensity by Juliette Binoche). Not that I can blame her. She finds herself in a terrible spot.

Continue reading: The Widow Of St Pierre (La Veuve De Saint-Pierre) Review

Michel Duchaussoy

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