Roman de gare Reviews
Um filme muito inteligente do grande diretor Claude Lelouch. Um bom filme de supense não tem que ser sangrento para despertar a atenção do público. Um filme único e surpreeendente para os amantes dos bons filmes. Nós ficamos esperando que algo ruim aconteça de várias maneiras. Muito surpreeendete e elegantemente feito. Muito bom!!
written and directed by Claude Lelouch
starring Dominique Pinon, Fanny Ardant, Audrey Dana, Miriam Boyer, Zinedine Soualem
Claude Lelouch challenges our expectations as he creates a film with many red herrings that continues to surprise to the end credits.
The story involves a popular writer named Judith Ralitzer (Ardant) who as the film opens is being questioned about a possible homicide. From there the story backs up and we meet a man named Pierre Laclos (Pinon) who could be a pedophile serial killer who preys on children whom he has entertained with balloon tricks and impressions. We see him with children and are left to imagine just what he?s going to do to them once he?s left to his own devices. By the end we?re still not sure who he really is and it proves to be rather frustrating when attempting to put the pieces together. Did he kill that little girl? Actually, there are other possibilities with this man which include his ghost writing Judith?s books. We see him aboard her yacht and there are numerous exchanges relating directly to this fact. We are led to believe that the vaunted author of numerous books of fiction is actually a fraud. Or at least we want to believe. Judith doesn?t come across at all well in this film. She?s too caught up in the reception of her works and it leaves her a bit pompous and wholly arrogant. She?s not just cocksure, though. She?s luxuriating in her prestige at being considered a major novelist of the 21st century.
Pierre is hanging out at a gas station/cafe. He notices a woman and a man having a fight in the parking lot. Then the man leaves the woman stranded and she comes into the gas station. Her name is Huguette (Dana) and Pierre manages to convince her to leave with him after a few moments of haggling. So, naturally the audience is wondering just how safe this particular ride will be. Later when they arrive at her parents?s place she asks him to pretend he?s her fiancee. So he goes through the entire nonsense of playing a little game with her family, which includes her young daughter. Then he goes trout fishing with the daughter and we are left to wonder yet again, ?is he going to...with the girl?? But then they finally come back and frustration starts to kick in. One quickly learns that Pierre might not be what we want him to be because we hear a radio voice over stating that the suspect entertained three young girls with card tricks while we watch this scene unfold. I suppose this is supposed to close the book on the possibility of Pierre being the actual killer but it doesn?t seem that way to me. He?s still potentially guilty regardless of the tricks the director continues to play on us.
So, the film obsessively deals with shady dealings and possible multiple identities. Each of these are techniques employed by writers of fiction and there?s a sense in the film that each of the two central characters are merely characters in Judith?s book. They behave like characters and every scene has an intensely dramatic arc that seems even more over the top than typical cinematic representations. It?s difficult to say just what is going on at all times as none of the characters in the film (not the ones that Judith is possibly writing into the book) are simply what they seem. The joy of this film is not knowing the truth about anyone and the film makers do nothing to clear it up by the end. We might very well be getting merely the last chapter in Judith?s book and the harsh ending demonstrates either the actions of a character in her book or a particular state of mind. Chances are that it?s supposed to be taken literally but the fact that other interpretations can?t be ruled out suggest a film with a perverse sense of humor.
The film simply wants us to imagine one route only to have a roadblock leave us scrambling to find a proper exit and another path. It perpetually plays on our expectations by throwing in other possible explanations that force us to examine our own prejudices. Is Pierre a ruthless child rapist/killer or is he merely the real brains behind Judith?s success? Or is he truly neither of these? Can he be both? There is also a woman having an affair with a cop whose husband has disappeared We learn that he left his class behind and has been gone for three days. Then we learn the same about Pierre and so we are left to wonder if they are the same man. And so it goes. It?s a smart script that becomes almost too smart at times. It works necessarily out of sheer guile and the end result is a discreet confusion that it?s clear Lelouch wants us to feel. Having bashed our sensibilities for so long, the film?s ending comes through as something of a relief.
In a sense this film feels like a dirty trick or at least a terrible conceit. Regardless, it makes one?s head swim trying to sort out all the details and construct a passable story out of those narrative fragments that are handed to us. For all the tomfoolery in the film making here it isn?t particularly difficult to ?solve? it by the end. Of course that is only if you accept a literal interpretation of the denouement. Otherwise you are left scratching your head wondering if this is audacious or merely pompous. At times this film does feel as if it is quite fond of its cleverness and creates certain scenes only to be clever in the end. Still, for the lion?s share of the film, it feels as if there is a genuine desire to entertain and also to keep the audience guessing to the final bell. And for the most part it succeeds on both fronts. The film offers a series of mind spasms that never seem to abate long after the final credits have rolled.
Each character in this film is properly fleshed out so that they are firmly believable and fully engaging. This isn?t to say that they are particularly charming people or that they possess a surplus of affability. No, there is something decidedly off putting about each of the characters as it?s just impossible to trust our initial impressions of them. Subsequently, we never really get an opportunity to embrace any of the characters as they tend to slip through our fingers at the last possible moment. They are written well but are not the type to be effectively dissected in hopes of gaining a semblance of an understanding. There is no such action appropriate here; these are inscrutable characters, supremely enigmatic, and their pride and motives remain forever a mystery. And this is a good thing. It?s boring to know too much about a character; it serves no purpose to get the whole story handed to you with little or no effort required on your part.
The performances in this film are all solid and the characters well written and performed. Dominique Pinon is exceptionally focused as the possible scourge of mankind who may also be a very famous woman?s ghost writer. He maintains a cloudy dissonance throughout and never gives his true station away. Through gestures and his dry, becalmed wit, he establishes a solidity that the film plays with as the film progresses. Fanny Ardant, playing a decidedly unlikable character, manages to give Judith a vitality that comes off especially when she?s on her yacht taking in the sun of another?s genius. There?s fear in Ardant?s eyes?the fear of discovery??and a coldness that rejects those measures that fail to live up to her impossible standards. Audrey Dana is strong in her role and brings a sense of quiet dignity to the character. Huguette is emotionally shaky and when we meet her we aren?t necessarily convinced she is who she says she is. Dana does a great job keeping the mystery alive with her eyes.
Overall, this film captivates as long as it doesn?t fall in love with its own ingenuity. For the most part this doesn?t happen as the story takes precedent and the performances are uniformly excellent. This is very much a character study cloaked in the finery of an identity skewing murder mystery. It uses tricks both within the story and as a mechanism of the plot to tell a story that one can read fairly well up to the penultimate sequence. At that point, the film reaches what turns out to be a logical conclusion to what has transpired before. Subsequently, the end proves to be rather appropriate and thoroughly satisfactory. The film is not betrayed by a sodden, weak ending that pleases no one and annoys everyone.
[b][color=black][font=Tahoma]Generally a movie is resigned to only one particular genre. One normally walks into a multiplex already knowing the genre of the film they are about to see. "Mamma Mia"? That's a musical. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"? A comedy. Very rarely do you see a film that specializes in multiple genres. And it's even more uncommon when a film does this well. To say that "Roman De Gare" does this well is a major understatement. This spectacular French film masters the art of the thriller, the love story, the character study, and the murder mystery. Writer-producer-director Claude Lelouch spins a mesmerizing tale that keeps the viewer simultaneously nervous, excited, moved, scared, puzzled, fascinated, and exhilarated. This is one of those movies where you think you have figured everything out, only to be thrown an unexpected twist in the next scene. "Roman De Gare" serves as a clinic to aspiring filmmakers, as it shows the value of a story perfectly told. When you have flawless storytelling, with the help of superb acting and beautiful direction, there is no need for any sort of gaudy cinematic techniques.[/font][/color][/b][color=black][font=Tahoma][/font][/color]
[b][color=black][font=Tahoma]Any attempt to describe the plot would be doomed from the start. The best way to experience this film is to go in completely unaware. That way the viewer can fully appreciate the power of pure storytelling. All I will say is that "Roman De Gare" holds you in its grasp until the final frame. Claude Lelouch takes no shortcuts, never falling for any clichés. This film has a great deal of shocking developments that in lesser hands could have felt frustratingly manipulative. In the hands of Claude Lelouch, however, everything feels genuine. The career of Mr. Lelouch has spanned nearly five decades. This is my first encounter with his work. After seeing "Roman De Gare", I will surely seek out the other entries in his filmography.[/font][/color][/b][color=black][font=Tahoma][/font][/color]
[b][color=black][font=Tahoma]Claude Lelouch is helped tremendously by a magnificent cast. Dominique Pinon is wonderful; he adds just the right mix of romance, curiosity, and mystery to his role as the film's leading man. The two female leads also shine. Audrey Dana and Fanny Ardant are two stunningly gorgeous actresses who are just as talented as they are beautiful. It is refreshing to watch these great actors act with such grace.[/font][/color][/b][color=black][font=Tahoma][/font][/color]
[b][color=black][font=Tahoma]The French film industry must be going through its golden age. Over the course of the last two years I have been lucky enough to see three of my favorite foreign films of all time, all of which happen to be French. First there was "La Vie en Rose", the astonishing biopic of Edith Piaf. Then there was "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", the extraordinary biopic of Jean-Dominique Bauby. "Roman De Gare" is not a biopic, but like those two great films, it is a master class of simple moviemaking, and one of the year's best films.[/font][/color][/b][color=black][font=Tahoma][/font][/color]