Dir. Jerome Salle. Fr.2005. 90mins.
From the opening BernardHermann-esque chords over shots of a mysterious woman entering a train stationcarrying a bright red sack, it's clear that we are settling into a thrillerharkening back to vintage Hitchcock - with a helping of James Bond Euro-luxurythrown in for good measure. Less cliche-ridden than simply an amalgamation ofHollywood thriller staples, Anthony Zimmer is a handsome, well-executedthrill-ride with twists that in the end may not be playing fair.
Aimed at moviegoers who likeboth classic Hollywood and good-looking European cinema, and featuringattractive actors, exotic locales, fast cars and other jet-set luxuries, thissimple but stylish thriller shouldn't have a hard time finding a wide internationalaudience, language barrier notwithstanding (it opens in France on Apr 27).
While it is an exciting andvery entertaining ride, implausible plot turns prevent the film from workingcompletely. But by the final stretch that may not even matter, for the film-makershave put together such a polished, entertaining production.
The simple plot of thisfirst feature from Jerome Salle begins with a femme fatale-type, Chiara(Marceau) waiting at a Paris train station to meet Anthony Zimmer, herinternationally-hunted, money-laundering criminal boyfriend. Instead of Zimmermeeting her, she receives a letter telling her she should get on the train asplanned but choose a man at random and seduce him into taking Zimmer's placegoing down to Nice. Once aboard she settles on solo-travelling Francois, playedby Yvan Attal (The Interpreter, Happily Ever After).
Beginning with a premise notunlike 1972's light-hearted Le Grand Blond Avec Une Chaussure Noire(remade into the 1985 Tom Hanks vehicle The Man With One Red Shoe),Salle's film takes the notion seriously as a man chosen at random becomes mixedup with criminal elements, with both law and bad guys on his trail.
But unlike those comedies, AnthonyZimmer, as much as the characters themselves, relishes style - the expensiveclothes, the beautiful beaches and the fast and furious action. And once Chiaraand Francois reach the French Riviera, where guns are fired in five-star hotelsuites and the average-guy fantasy of a weekend with Marceau starts to bebecome a paranoid nightmare, the story is turned up yet another notch.
Attal and Marceau do wellwith the thriller material and their capable performances reflect the demandsof the genre. Attal convincingly plays a normal guy with a kind of inexplicablemagnetism that the actor's been honing for a few years now, a character whoappears resourceful enough to hold his own against both gangsters and lawenforcement, all who believe he is Zimmer.
Marceau, essentially ananti-heroine for audiences to root for, is sexy and tough, and clearly relishesher role, as does the legendary Sami Frey (Band Of Outsiders) who givesweight as an Interpol officer on the hunt for Zimmer for years.
Helping out the seductivequalities is the effective soundtrack with well-chosen pieces of music for eachmood of the film, whether it be suspense, action or hitting the Riviera. Itvery much evokes the mood of a Steven Soderbergh film - appropriately for afeature that plays like a hip North By Northwest for the Ocean'sEleven and Twelve crowd.
Prod cos: Fidelite Prods, Alter Films, TF1 Films
Int'l sales: Studiocanal
Fr dist: Mars Dist
Prod: Olivier Delbosc, MarcMissonnier, Alain Terzian
Scr: Jerome Salle
Cine: Denis Rouden
Ed: Richard Marizy
Prod des: Laurent Piron
Music: Frederic Talgorn
Main cast: Sophie Marceau, YvanAttal, Sami Frey, Daniel Olbrychski