TIFF ’10: Day 3 ~ The Big Picture (L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie)

I’ve not read anything by Douglas Kennedy, but I really have to at some point. Eric Latigau has taken Kennedy’s book and made an excellent thriller-mystery. Slick and flawless, it’s French filmmaking at its entertaining best.

Paul has it all: He’s rich, a hugely successful investment banker, a beautiful wife, a lovely home, two kids whom he adores. He gets bad news that his partner is retiring (the founder of the company – a short performance by Catherine Deneuve). But the good news is that she’s leaving the entire firm to him. Free. Even when it gets worse it gets better.

But there’s a current of unease: His wife seems unhappy (she is) and has started an affair which Paul soon discovers. Paul feels like he’s sacrificed his true self to join the rat race and support his wife, kids and their lifestyle. He’s an amateur photographer, and had dreamed of making that his career. He gets a second chance when things spin out of control.

And this is the heart of the movie: second chances, stolen identities, perfectly planned crimes, fate, irony,your past always nipping at your heels. As one audience member said, “Don’t ever stop making films like this”. And it’s true. This stylish genre has become a real French passion and they’ve defined the form.

All of the actors are fabulous. It even has Branka Katic (from Big Love) who I really like. Branka, as well as the director and star Roman Duris were all there for the World Premiere, and after for the Q&A.

There’s one element about which I’m really curious: this occurs when Paul confronts the man who has stolen the affections of his wife, whom he obviously has not that much regard or respect for. Just wondering if this was there to make Paul even more sympathetic, and to make his rival more of a cad? I’d have to read the book to find out.

The film is set in France and moves to the Balkans, with all the atmospheric sheen that setting entails. A wonderful choice for a wonderful film.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “TIFF ’10: Day 3 ~ The Big Picture (L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie)

  1. PatD

    I have never seen Duris in a bad movie. He makes brilliant choices, and he is always mesmerizing. Looking forward to this one.

    The last Deneuve movie I saw knocked my socks off: “Apres luis.”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0922354/

  2. Duris is equally at home in this as a slick investment advisor, a family man, and as talented photographer.

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