Both this film and its central character are so unapologetic that it's difficult to get either out of your head long after the final credits roll. A fictionalised version of a notorious real story, this is an unflinching account of how the rich and powerful live seemingly above the law. Until they crash with a thud so loud it's heard around the world. And as an exploration of how money and privilege corrupt the soul, this film is essential viewing, no matter how uncomfortable it is to watch.
At the centre is Devereaux (Gerard Depardieu), the corpulent head of the World Bank, whose life is a whirlwind of prostitutes, drugs and wild sex parties, even as he still has hopes of one day becoming president of France. Then in a five-star suite in a Manhattan hotel, he unthinkingly assaults a maid (Pamela Afesi). And he has no idea why he's being arrested in a media frenzy. He calls his wealthy wife Simone (Jacqueline Bisset) for bail him out, and she reluctantly drops her charity work to fly to New York and rent a house for them for the duration of his trial, standing by his side for the cameras, along with his daughter Sophie (Marie Moute). But Devereaux is so sure his political connections will get him off that he remains utterly unrepentant.
Depardieu is astonishing in the role, giving a fearless performance as a man who is so self-absorbed that he can't even begin to think that his actions might hurt someone. Consequences don't matter to him, because he's always done whatever he wants. And Depardieu is utterly transparent in every scene, most memorably when he is strip-searched by the cops and, even more disturbingly, when he mauls a young journalist (Shanyn Leigh) interviewing him about the trial. Opposite him, Bisset is radiant and fierce as a woman worn down by her infant-like husband, but standing by him against her better judgment. Their bristly conversations in the final act play out in long takes that are seriously gripping.
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Devereaux is well known by the people closest to him as an uninhibited playboy, using his wealth and his high status as a rich French politician to gain him access to a whole world of sexual adventures. Despite the fact that he has a loving wife, nothing stops him in his pursuit of pleasure, but such undisciplined behaviour is always likely to be dangerous. After one spontaneous encounter with a New York hotel maid, he finds himself suddenly accused by authorities of being a rapist. While everyone knows of his womanizing ways, no-one would've suspected such an occurence and Devereaux is left cowering and desperate, and feeling guilty that his lifestyle has led to such injustice. Will a man who has so many big ideas on rescuing the economy manage to hold his high for long enough to protest his innocence? Or has he managed to end his promising career?
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Jon Reiss's debut feature tells the story of Robert Marrs (Paul Hipp), an independently wealthy and prissy photographer unable to impregnate his wife Hallie (Bitty Schram). When they leave for a short trip, Zack (Boyd Kestner) and Sophie (Pitch Black's Radha Mitchell) are enlisted to care for the house. But upon their return, the place is a mess, the fish are dead, and Zack & Sophie don't look to leave.
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So much controversy has been swirling around the release of "Max" -- a fictional film about a Jewish art dealer in post-World War I Germany who takes an angry young painter named Adolf Hitler under his wing -- that an important fact has been lost in the debate: the movie just isn't very good.
Criticized for potentially humanizing the most systematically monstrous racist and tyrant of the 20th Century, the picture really has the opposite problem. Hitler, played by the talented Noah Taylor ("Shine"), is so nervously seething with bile, resentment, fear and anger that it's difficult to take him seriously during pivotal scenes in which the young Nazi party organizer is spitting his venomous but empty anti-Semitic propaganda to crowds on the streets of Berlin.
Writer-director Menno Meyjes (making his directorial debut after scripting such films as "The Color Purple" and "The Siege") seems to realize this problem too. He keeps cutting away to audience members nodding emphatically to lend the character credibility he would be hard-pressed to find without such a scripted peanut gallery.
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An eerie, enigmatic, intellectual romantic tragedy about a rising politician haunted by memories of his murdered love, "Waking the Dead" touches a raw nerve with its remarkably visceral emotional intensity.
Absolutely gripping from its very first frame, the film begins in 1974 with a young Fielding Pierce (Billy Crudup) being torn apart from the inside out as he watches news coverage of a car-bombing that killed his peace activist girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly).
Although the movie has yet to reveal anything discernible about these two people, simply watching Crudup shake uncontrollably in an eruption of tears is enough to take hold of your empathy and ride it like a rodeo mustang through the heartbreak and borderline dementia that bedevil him throughout the story's decade span.
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