The Big Picture (2012)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
Paul Exben is a success story -- a great job, a beautiful wife and two wonderful sons. Except that this is not the life he has been dreaming of. A moment of madness is going to change his life, forcing him to assume a new identity that will enable him to live his life fully.
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as Paul Exben
as Sarah Exben
as Fiona Exben
as Valery Grey
as Grégoire Kremer
as Hugo Exben
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Critic Reviews for The Big Picture
"The Big Picture" ends perhaps a bit too ambiguously, but there's something refreshing about its faith in the moviegoer's intelligence.
Director Eric Lartigau tells the story slowly, less interested in suspense than in character.
Takes familiar material - involving a violent crime and an assumed identity - and nudges it just enough to keep us interested for most of the ride.
It moves, with supple muscularity, toward a twisty and satisfying conclusion.
Duris is excellent, his hair and eyes growing wilder with each step of the journey, and he has solid support ...
Audience Reviews for The Big Picture
"The Big Picture" starts with the sounds of a baby crying that Paul(Romain Duris), a lawyer, answers, leaving his wife Sarah(Marina Fois) to enjoy her restful sleep a little longer. The following morning she gives him the cold shoulder at breakfast which even their older son takes notice of. The day does not get any better for Paul when his friend and mentor Anne(Catherine Deneuve) informs him over sushi that she is dying. Sarah soon after tells him that she is giving up writing which only leads to another argument. As an amateur photographer, Paul is friends with Greg(Eric Ruf), a professional, later confronting him over fears that he is having an affair with Sarah...
"The Big Picture" is a well-photographed, engaging and ironic movie about the nature of identity, even with one sizable contrivance. Along these same lines, it took me a while to realize how much a double entendre the title is. From clues scattered throughout the movie, it becomes clear that while Paul and Sarah may have started out at the same place of idealism in their young lives, somewhere along the way, their paths diverged widely, even as Paul tries to maintain his scruffy appearance. Part of that may involve an intervention for Paul, like the one he gives to a teenage client, by people who in feeling they had his best interests at heart, took away some critical part of his personality. So, years later, Sarah has an affair with somebody who reminds her of a younger Paul who Paul in return pretends to be, while also getting a glimpse of a possible future. While doing this in the most selfish way possible, he also learns quite a lot about himself in the process, thus explaining why the movie ends where it does.
A difficult to categorise, deeply immersive beautifully shot and acted anti-thriller. Romain Duris puts in a typically impressive performance as a hard-working father who had dreams of being a photographer which he put aside in favour of the security of a well paid job. When he discovers his wife is having an affair with a professional photographer (who has yet to get his 'big break'), he confronts the man and in an altercation accidentally kills him. Rather than confessing (he fears he would be forever be labelled a murderer), he covers up the crime and in an elaborate plan, steal the photographer's identity and fakes his own death. Setting off with a camera he pursues the dream career he always wanted, but is now a broken wreck of a man looking to atone...
There are at least half a dozen shifts in this wonderfully different film, all of which subtly change the tone of the film without interrupting the flow. Whilst the story occasionally indulges in coincidences for the most part the film feels realistic, and Duris' nuanced study really helps you to believe in him and essentially hope for his 'deliverance'. Stunningly cinematography, almost poetic editing and an open ending combined with spare writing mark The Big Picture out as one of the masterpieces of French cinema. Really worth tracking down.
A film that makes you wonder about circumstantially leaving riches, career and children behind to be a photographer in war-torn Serbia, living on a 100euro/month rental in the middle of nowhere. For much of the movie, one keeps asking, "why?" but by the abrupt end one can only conclude: "if so, why not sooner?"
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