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L'homme qui voulait vivre sa vie/The Big Picture


Stars: Romain Duris, Marina Fois, Catherine Deneuve, Eric Ruf, Branka Katic, Niels Arestrup

Director: Eric Lartigau

On the surface Parisian lawyer Duris has the perfect life – he is happily married to Fois, has two great sons and has a strong legal practice in partnership with Deneuve. Until, that is, real life intrudes. Deneuve, effective in a relatively minor role, tells him she is terminally ill, and he discovers Fois is having an affair with their next-door neigbour, photographer Ruf. Then everything collapses around him when he accidentally kills his wife’s lover…

Remember Ripley? Duris apparently does and to his considerable advantage. He flees Paris, conveniently obtaining a fake passport in Ruf’s name, settles in Montengro where he assumes Duf’s identity, starts afresh and becomes an acclaimed photographer in his own right.

Duris is excellent in both identities: his subtle and potent performance makes his segue from one character into the other convincing and if the drama’s resolution is a tad too convenient, no matter. The Big Picture is ingenious and gripping, attractively shot by Laurent Dailland and directed by Lartigau to make the most of the story and performances rather than aiming for critic-friendly Continental art movie status.

The film is based on a best-seller by American author Douglas Kennedy with the action switched from New York and Montana to Paris and Montenegro: doubtless an American remake is already being considered. It would be redundant.

Alan Frank

France 2010. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Colour.
114 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Jul 2011