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Other/Miscellaneous => Off-Topic Discussion => Topic started by: morrison-dylan-fan on June 02, 2017, 04:29:30 PM



Title: French Neo-Noir: I Saw Ben Barka Get Killed (2005)
Post by: morrison-dylan-fan on June 02, 2017, 04:29:30 PM

Watched on DVD.

8/10.

 “You don’t always choose your end,nor your beginning.”

** This review may contain spoilers ***

Taking part in a poll on ICM for the best movies of 2005,I started gathering DVDs to watch. Only knowing the interesting "Fingers" remake The Beat That My Heart Skipped as a French title from that year I started searching on Amazon UK,and stumbled on a "ripped from the headlines" Neo-Noir,which led to me meeting Ben Barka.

The plot:

Lying dead in a pool of blood,movie producer Georges Figon talks from beyond the grave on how he got here.

France in the 1960's:

Gaining a footing in the French African colonies, Ben Barka starts undermining the power of the De Gaulle government with calls for the colonies to have their own democracy. Recently out of jail, Figon is approached by a rich stranger who wants him to make a documentary about decolonization that will be shown at a major political summit. Accepting the offer,Figon hires film director Georges Franju and scriptwriter Marguerite Duras to begin work on the project. Needing an adviser for the project,Figon decides to ask for Ben Barka,whose arrival leads to the government giving Figon film an unexpected ending.

View on the film:

Ripped from the headlines of a case kept secret for 40 years,co- writers/(with Frédérique Moreau) co-directors Serge Le Péron and Saïd Smihi smartly reveal in their screenplay that fact is stranger than fiction,with the writers sticking to the known facts of Barka's "disappearance." Opening with a dead Figon,the writers rub the title in warm Hollywood Film Noir oils,from the masks and reels of films hanging on the walls being ornaments of Georges Franju's past,to Figon discovering that the sun-kissed streets of Paris are a criminal façade.

Digging out archive footage of De Gaulle saying that anyone who says the government was involved is trying to "Undermine" France, (good to see political dialogue has matured so much in the ensuring years)the writers keep exposition to a minimum,in order to build a Noir web of doubt over who is starting to surround Figon and Barka's production. Backed by a Jazzy score from Joan Albert Amargós and Pierre-Alexandre Mati,the directors and cinematographer Christophe Pollock draw a Moroccan "evil under the sun" Neo-Noir aura across the flick,as the narration from Figon hovers above the shadowy figures keen to make Barka "disappear."

Welding eyes to a face, Jean-Pierre Léaud gives a scene-stealing performance as Franju,whose joy in his past creations is cast across Franju's face,with a subtle awareness from Léaud on the brutal struggle Franju is trapped in to get any project off the ground. Putting everyone's noses out of joint, Charles Berling gives a great performance as Noir loner Figon,with Berling giving Figon a casualness to the underbelly of the city due to the years he has spent stuck inside it, until it hits Figon that he is the one who saw who killed Ben Barka.