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Off-Topic Discussion / Re: What whodunits did you see/hear/read?
« on: May 12, 2018, 09:57:33 AM »

Finally Sunday (1983) 8


Seeing an excellent double bill of The Story of Adele H and Pocket Money,I took a look at François Truffaut other credits. Finding that fellow auteur Robert Bresson had made his last movie (the very good L'Argent) in 1983,I was sad to find that Truffaut had also made his last production in the same year,which led to me paying my respects to both film makers.

View on the film:

Making his last ever image being children playing around/kicking a camera lens, (which could be seen as a metaphor of the New Wavers kicking cinema in whichever direction they wanted) film maker François Truffaut is joined by long-time co-writers Suzanne Schiffman & Jean Aurel,and cinematographer Néstor Almendros for a slick final return to Film Noir. Displaying his love of Hitchcock, Truffaut and Aurel conclude their experimentation of tracking shots with elegant pans along Vercel's safe-house,and walls glazed in sharp black and white shadows building anticipation to brief glimpses of the killer.

Going for a much lighter mood than his past Film Noir's, Truffaut cross-stitches Noir with a "Caper" lightness, reeling in visits to the cinema, a cheeky elf outfit for Becker and Georges Delerue's score giving a jaunty swagger to Becker and Vercel. Spreading photos of the crimes Vercel is accused of across the screen, the writers do extremely well in their adaptation of Charles "Dead Calm" Williams book never feeling heavy,with the dialogue having the sparkling quality of the Caper genre,which allows for the couples run to solve the case to have a cheeky playful mood. Joining her husband for the second,and final time,Fanny Ardant gives an excellent performance as Becker,with Ardant injecting a wry sense of humour in Becker's exchanges with Jean-Louis Trintignant's stressed-out Vercel, and showing a real relish in wearing Truffaut's last Femme Fatale jacket.


Download. 10

Warning: Spoilers
Looking at my April viewings,the most unexpected quality viewing I've had is François Truffaut's 1975 Costume Drama The Story of Adele H,largely due to the performance from Isabelle Adjani. Since seeing him charge the Neo-Noir atmosphere up with 1981's Garde à vue,I've been keeping a look out for more creations by Claude Miller. Checking Adjani's credits,I was thrilled to find that she had worked with Miller on a Neo-Noir that has recently turned up uncut with Subs, (the cut DVD came out after US remake Eye of the Beholder)which led to me breaking the circuit.

View on the film:

Following up Garde à vue by cameraman Gilbert Duhalde becoming the cinematographer here, directing auteur Claude Miller beautifully expands on the recurring motifs of Garde with lush outdoor watercolours, and a haunting Jazz score from Carla Bley. Making the 2 hour run-time move at an incredible speed, Miller gives "The Eye" tracking Marie a pristine Neo-Noir clarity of tracking shots following The Eye's attempts to blend in with the crowd. Bending the initial investigation to the Eye's growing obsession,Miller twists it into an ultra-stylised dream-logic world,where Marie's killings have the metallic shine of Giallo, a telekinetic-like connection made with smoothly-held tracking shots,and an explosive shattering of the connection between The Eye and Marie.

Spreading limited details of Marie's life across the screen in photos, Michel & Jacques Audiard's adaptation of Marc Behm's book brims with a Neo-Noir attention to detail,where The Eye excitingly takes the smallest clue to make the fullest portrait of Marie. Turning the mystery down to a simmering threat, the writers masterfully piece together The Eye's years following of Marie into a study of obsession, where the anticipation of speaking to her gets The Eye to start imagining/performing what he dreams their first encounter will be.

Lighting the eyes of The Eye from every sighting, Isabelle Adjani gives a magnificent performance as Marie, whose mysterious murmurs on her life pulls everyone from Stéphane Audran's " The grey lady" to Sami Frey's Ralph Forbes towards this Femme Fatale's blast of silence. Reuniting with Miller after Garde,Michel Serrault gives a thrilling performance as Neo-Noir loner The Eye,with Serrault and Adjani impressively creating chemistry just from glances at each other. Desiring to learn all about Marie,Serrault strips The Eye's life to a raw obsession,which cracks as the deadly circuit breaks.



"In the firmament of our celebrities."

Seeing a poll start on ICM for the best films from 1948,I decided to start viewing a pile of French films of '48 that I had gathered earlier in the year. Finding the 1943 duo Carnival of Sinners and Valley of Hell to be magnificent works,I was sad to read that 1948 was the last year auteur Maurice Tourneur made a movie, (a car accident would lead to him not making a film for the last 13 years of his life)which led to me paying my respects to Tourneur.

View on the film:

Two angels before they would turn poisonous in the classic Les Diaboliques and team up in Jacques Feyder's Back Streets of Paris,and Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows ( neither of which I've yet seen) Paul Meurisse and beautiful Simone Signoret give excellent performances as Jean and Anne-Marie / Marianne. Assigned with the task of stealing the necklace, Meurisse has Jean ooze "Caper" charisma,with Jean smoothly blending into the glittering champagne parties and performing the robberies with ease. Interrupted in this robbery by a glimpse of Marianne, Meurisse shreds the charm for a Film Noir loner,with Jean being unable to let go of the ghostly memory of his romance with Marianne. Stepping away from the music hall to marry an aristocrat , Simone Signoret brings to light exquisitely the haunted love she shares with Jean,as they walk down old streets,and Signoret gives Marianne a weight to her memories of days long gone.

Reuniting with Tourneur,the screenplay by Jean-Paul Le Chanois gives the opening a playfulness,as the elite Marquis Antoine de Fontaines pulls Marianne into his approved circle of entourage,while Jean hangs out with fellow thieves who have their eyes on the elite dropping their guard. Continuing to allegorically address issues, Chanois sets Jean and Marianne's re-awakened romance against the bombed streets of post-WWII,where the couple find doomed love and fading optimism along the crime-ridden shadowy streets.

Ending his career on an outstanding high, director Maurice Tourneur brings Jean and Marianne memories to the present with ultra-stylised superimposes double-exposures gliding across the street that the couple watch walk by. Giving their final brief encounter an icy Film Noir atmosphere, Tourneur and cinematographer Claude Renoir hold Marianne's necklace with shimmering tracking shots bringing the couple close together and reflecting the dilemma of two angels.

Off-Topic Discussion / Hammer Noir: The House Across the Lake(1954)
« on: March 30, 2018, 05:12:28 PM »

DVD,6. Spoilers:

With Easter coming up,I started looking for DVDs that I could watch with my dad during the holidays. Reading an old issue of British film mag Empire,I found a review for a Film Noir from a pre-Horror Hammer studio that DVD company Network had put out,which led to me swimming across the lake.

View on the film:

Whilst they have given much smaller titles great transfers,here Network sadly miss the mark,with the outdoor scenes having a large amount of grain,and the audio needing the volume raised. Swimming just a few years before assistant director Jimmy Sangster & producer Anthony Hinds to shore, writer/director Ken Hughes & cinematographer Walter J. Harvey plant some of the stylisation that was to come, via the speedboat run across the lake having an impending doom atmosphere, and the high walls of the Forrest house giving it the appearance of a haunted mansion.Adapting his own book, Ken (future maker of  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!) Hughes dips into pulpy Noir unease,as tempting dame  Carol Forrest gets lone writer Mark Kendrick to write their own murder-mystery. Going across in 65 min, the limitations of time lead to the ending feeling clipped,and unfulfilled. Headlined by the glamour of US actors Alex Nicol and Hillary Brooke, Sid James takes the wheel with a great performance as Beverly Forrest,that casts a cynical view at the house across the lake.

Off-Topic Discussion / David Lynch's Hotel Room (1992) Mini-Series.
« on: March 18, 2018, 06:11:18 PM »

Seen on DVD. 8


Looking for films/shows that friends could view over the Easter holiday,I spoke to a DVD seller about what titles he had recently picked up. Only knowing Twin Peaks as the TV work he had done,I was surprised to find out about a one-off mini-series that David Lynch had made after wrapping up TP (at the time) with Fire Walk With Me,which led to me booking a room.

View on the mini-series:

Made as three eps but trimmed into one 90 min film, (thankfully,the longer uncut eps survive)the writers Barry Gifford & Jay McInerney check in close to themes of David Lynch, (who co-created the show with Monty Montgomery) with the program entering a lone hotel room in 1969,1992 and 1936 that are home to white picket-fence visitors attempting to escape from the destructive outside world. Later adapted into plays, the limitations of the location allows for an excellent theatrical exploration of the characters,from the scotch on the rocks Noir ep 1 Tricks and the darkly comedic ep 2 Getting Rid of Robert, to the surprisingly touching final ep Blackout.

Directing the lone ep not done by Lynch, James Signorelli aims for the peculiar mood of the other pieces in Getting Rid of Robert,but misses the mark by being too self-aware at the strangeness of the situation, and the repeated cuts away from the hotel room breaking the tension. Reuniting with a smooth score from Angelo Badalamenti,Lynch gives his first ep a boiler room atmosphere, as Moe (played by a dripping with sweat Harry Dean Stanton) finds himself trapped in the past with two fellow guests who will land Moe with some deadly Tricks. Lit with stray shots of thunder on the window and candle light,Lynch reins in Crispin Glover’s usual quirks to get an outstanding performance from him as Danny in ep 3 Blackout, with  Alicia Witt joining Glover with a beautifully unsettling,calm performance as Diane,in David Lynch’s minimalist, experimental hotel room.   

Off-Topic Discussion / Euro Spy/Crime: Web of Violence (1966)
« on: March 13, 2018, 04:23:43 PM »
Seen on DVD 6


With Easter coming up,I started looking for a film that I could send to a friend as a gift. Previously finding his Spaghetti Western Day After Tomorrow a stylish,black Comedy take on the genre,I was pleased to find a DVD seller say he had tracked down a rare Euro Spy flick from Nick Nostro,which led to me webbing the violence.

The plot:

Feeling down over recently getting sacked, journalist Walter puts all his hopes on girlfriend Lisa supporting him during this difficult time. Spending hours waiting to meet her,Walter leaves his place and goes to find out what's keeping Lisa occupied. Throwing the dice by spying on the outskirts of town, Walter discovers that Lisa has been caught up in a web of violence.

View on the film:

Spinning the web when the genre was entering a (somewhat) more serious phase, this adaptation of Sergio Donati’s novel uniquely crosses Euro Spy with the early stages of the Italian Crime genre. Linking Lisa with the criminal underworld, the writers make Walter (played by a chiseled    Brett Halsey) use espionage skills to locate the underworld big boss, with Walter having to skillfully unscramble all of the names of the thugs who know Lisa. Limited to being seen in a third generation pan & scan VHSD rip (aww..the bad old pre-DVD days!) director Nick Nostro & cinematographer  Emilio Foriscot slick look is still able to shine,with Walter’s friend/helper Christina (played by an eye-catching Margaret Lee) being given a glamour shine, and side shots catching glances/spying on Walter.  Loading up on Italian Crime for the final, Nostro slams the case shut with clipped car chases and blunt shootouts that recoil as Walter turns the web of violence.

Off-Topic Discussion / You Were Never Really Here (2017)
« on: March 09, 2018, 04:40:45 PM »
Seen at cinema 6/10


Going to do some shopping for Easter in Birmingham,I decided to take a look at what was screening at the oldest cinema in the UK (The Electric.) Previously hearing about her from the infamous walk-off on the interesting Western Jane Got A Gun,I was intrigued to find writer/director Lynne Ramsay's new title being screened,which led to me finding out if you were really here.

View on the film:

Backed by the unsettling, screeching hum of Jonny Greenwood's Industrial score,writer/director Lynne Ramsay & cinematographer Thomas Townend wash the filth from the street in grainy digital, that gives the movie a visceral grubby atmosphere, as Joe searches backstreet buildings covered in grime,and the short,sharp shots of violence burn in dried red. Tracking Joe's shattered glass mind, Ramsay reflects his past in jagged flashbacks, with the rough edges strongly suggesting,but not fully revealing,what was there in Joe's childhood.

Caked in a scraggy beard, Joaquin Phoenix gives an excellent performance as Joe,whose Noir loner outlook is fuelled by Phoenix giving Joe a dead to the world gaze,which strikes with each hammer blow he gives to the scum of the earth. Finding an empathetic connection with Nina, (played by a very good Ekaterina Samsonov) Phoenix allows Joe to express care for Nina,whilst always remaining aware of the tar-pit they are trapped in.  Taking the wheel from Jonathan Ames’s novel,the screenplay by Ramsay aims to examine the psychological side of Joe,but misses the mark with consistent “borrowing” from Taxi Driver. Suggesting that Joe is a damaged war vet,Ramsay is unable to avoid drawing from Taxi Driver’s child prostitute,pimps,loners and corrupt politicians in the most empty manner possible,with Ramsay failing to give any additional depth to the themes explored in Taxi. Weaving flashbacks to Joe’s abusive childhood, Ramsay’s attempt to give Joe a psychological depth disappointingly fails to fully alight, due to Joe’s fight to protect Nina not becoming fully thread with his own past,which was never really here…  

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Film-Noir Discussion/DVD Review Thread
« on: February 04, 2018, 09:25:46 AM »
This arrived here while I was AWOL for 2 weeks...

Thanks for the great pic XHC.I was hoping to pick the set up this Easter,but it has suddenly gone oop, (it is not even on Arrow's site anymore)with the cheapest on Amazon being £90. Looking on eBay,I've been very lucky & have just picked it up for £45 (with free post!)

Off-Topic Discussion / Brit Noir: Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958)
« on: February 03, 2018, 05:18:56 PM »

DVD. 8/10


Going to town after New Years day,I found out that a new DVD shop had opened. Along with the usual US blockbusters,I was surprised to find a shelf dedicated to British DVD labels Network and Optimum Releasing,which led to me chasing after the shadow.

The plot:

After the suicide of her dad, (and also the death of her brother recently) diamond company heiress Kimberley Prescott goes to grieve on the family villa in Spain. Trying to make sense over the loss of two family members, Prescott is shaken from her grief by the arrival of a man,who claims to be her dead brother Ward McKenzie Prescott Jr. Running to police and family,Kimberley is horrified to find everyone disbelieve her that a stranger has stolen Ward's crooked shadow.

View on the film:

Unlike their spotless transfers for Ealing Studios and Jacques Becker's work, Optimum Releasing bring out a transfer which features some big lines of dirt,that become distracting when they appear during the close-ups. Following the slithering shadow of Hammer Horror's Psycho-Thriller era and the pre-black gloves psychological bloodless Giallo era, the screenplay by David D. Osborn & Charles Sinclair display a sharp taste for Film Noir fear,via the family villa being turned into a crypt,where Kimberly is left to crack from the ghostly "return" of Ward,who as a Noir loner brings with him unfinished family business.

Along with the Psycho-Thriller edge,the writers drive into the jet-set sunset Neo-Noir genre,where Kimberly finds the glittering sun of Spain to brighten up the mind games and suspicions between her and Ward.  Before he would count down time with Logan’s Run, director Michael Anderson and cinematographer Erwin Hillier keep the timer running with psychological chills, as highly stylised Film Noir shadows surround the villa and hide the family secrets from light. Largely taking place in the Prescott villa, Anderson brings a noose of claustrophobic tension in restrained tracking shots capturing the limited space Kimberly has to uncover the motive behind Ward’s “return.”  Coming in as an outsider with a great, stern Herbert Lom as local cop Vargas, Richard Todd layers on the unsettling, psychopathic, devilish charm as Ward,whilst  Anne Baxter brilliantly follows Kimberley slowly cracking under pressure,as Kimberley digs her nails into the crooked shadow.

Off-Topic Discussion / Ed McBain's Cop Hater (1958)
« on: February 03, 2018, 11:25:41 AM »
Seen on DVD. 7


Recently picking up the 1958 British Film Noir Chase a Crooked Shadow,I began looking for another Noir from '58 that I could watch it in a double bill with. Knowing Ed McBain for his classic novels and work with Hitchcock,I was intrigued to find a McBain Film Noir adaptation,which led to me hating cops!

The plot:

As the streets of New York get dried out during a long Summer,a stranger kills two police officers. Taking the murders personally, the 87th Precinct put two of their best cops on the case: Steve Carelli and Mike Maguire. Whilst the police officers struggle to pick up a lead, news reporter Hank Miller begins to hear gangs full of cop haters.

View on the film:

Set during long hot Summer nights, director William Berke & cinematographer J. Burgi Contner give their cop killer an evil under the sun atmosphere,with scorching hot white lights and dirty clothes signalling the burning hot Film Noir desire the cops have to grab the killer. While keep things strictly by the room, Berke finds side-streets for stylish quirks,from a deaf girlfriend to a gang of hip juvenile delinquency.

Taking notes from McBain’s first 87th  Precinct novel,the screenplay by Henry Kane aims for the three cop killings to fire up the passions of their fellow officers. Killing the officers before they have been given any real depth, Kane’s attempt to build a feeling of Film Noir urgency runs dry,due to it lacking any sign of the novel characterization/depth that was on offer to the police and the gangs. Oddly being named Steve Carelli instead of Carella, Robert Loggia gives a very good performance as the tough-talking Carelli,who wants to stop the hate on cops.


Seen on TV. My top first time viewing of 2017.



After the extraordinary Follow The Money ended earlier this year,I began to wonder if I would find any other series screened in 2017 that would match the quality of FTM. Whilst reading up about what UK DVD/Blu-Ray company Arrow were putting out later this year,I found a number of reviews highly praising a recently aired Spanish Neo-Noir "mini-series" that Arrow were to put out soon. Recently impressed with the Spanish Neo-Noir film The Body,I got set to see the genre presented in an extended format.

The plot:

On a road police are told of a man walking round who appears completely disorientated. Taking him to hospital,it is soon discovered that the man has lost his memory,and does not even know his name. Finding that he matches the description of mega-lawyer Juan Elías. Calling his family in, Elías looks at all of them like total strangers. Last seeing him in the final day of a college president election,the family ask him where he has been,but just get a blank look. As cops try to re-trace Juan's steps,they find out that Elías niece Ana Saura went missing on the same day,and has yet to be found.

View on the mini-series:

Planned as two 10 ep seasons but changed to one 16 ep "mini-series" due to differences with the network,the writers (led by co-director Pau Freixas & Pol Cortecans) incredibly build the themes of the series with a consistent tone that spans episodes with movie-worthy run times of 78-110 minutes. Finding Juan on the road as a Neo-Noir loner with no memory of the shadowy figures and events in his past, the writers display a sharp precession in placing together all of the fractured puzzle pieces in Juan's family and business activities. Threading Juan regaining his memory with the missing Saura,the writers give the mystery a Nordic Noir atmosphere, by Saura's disappearance being tangled with the murky dealings of Elías clan.

Striking at the heart of this Neo-Noir epic with a richly cynical,sun-kissed final, the writers give each Elías family member a jet-black line in ruthlessness,from son Pol's doubts over Juan's lost memory,to mother Alicia ruling the family with an iron fist.
The only figure Juan remembers, Aida Folch gives a splendid performance as Juan's former lover Eva Durán,whose lingering love for Juan is given seeds of doubt by Folch over the honesty of his missing memory. Whilst not having the look of a Femme Fatale, Blanca Portillo gives a thunderous performance as Alicia,with Portillo subtly changing the tone of her voice in each exchange,to pull the person Alicia is targeting tightly round her Femme Fatale fingers. In the middle of an outstanding ensemble cast, Francesc Garrido draws an incredibly complex Neo-Noir loner in Juan Elías, thanks to Garrido giving Juan a psychological depth with an enticing, simmering calmness,which keeps his true motives just out of sight from family and friends,as Juan Elías remembers who you are.

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Brit Noir: Stolen Assignment (1955)
« on: December 28, 2017, 08:03:31 PM »
Hi XHC! I hope you had a good Christmas,and thanks for telling me about this being part of a series! Has the first movie come out on DVD? On a side note,Arrow have a sale on until the 12th (I've just picked up Diamond Guys 2,they have sadly stopped doing free post.)

Off-Topic Discussion / Brit Noir: Stolen Assignment (1955)
« on: December 25, 2017, 10:06:27 AM »

Merry Christmas everyone!

Watched on Network DVD 6

Making plans for Christmas Eve,I started making plans to get a film to watch from UK DVD company Network to watch with my dad on the day. Reading old issues of UK film mag Empire,I found a review for a Film Noir/Caper from the label directed by future Hammer Horror legend Terence Fisher, which led to me taking the assignment.

The plot:

Focusing on his painting, artist Henry Crossley waves goodbye to his wife as she goes to catch a train to spend a week with her aunt. The next day Crossley gets a call,revealing his wife never arrived at the station, and is currently missing. Learning of the case, newspaper reporters Mike Billings and Jenny Drew grab an exclusive deal to report on the case. As the police report they have found a body,Billings and Drew start picking up the whispers in town about Crossley.

View on the film:

Treating the assignment with dignity, Network deliver a very good transfer,with the image only having a few specs of dirt,and the soundtrack being crisp. Made in the final phase of his pre Gothic Horror era, director Terence Fisher stylishly displays flourishes hinting at what was to come, from an elegant dame laid out across the screen in the opening and the low-lighting of Film Noir making a sequence of Drew creeping round the gardens of a house carry a menacing atmosphere.
Reported on in just under an hour run time, Kenneth R. Hayles adaptation of Maurice Harrison & Sidney Nelson's short story Involuntary Confession shakes Film Noir with a Caper tale,with the mutterings from the locals on the murder unveiling a town with hidden secrets, uncovered by the breezy exchanges between Drew and Billings. Snapping at each other to be the first at the typewriter, John Bentley and Hy Hazell give sparkling performances as Billings and Drew,thanks to them each giving the duo a slippery vibe in their sharp one liners exchanges on the stolen assignment.

Off-Topic Discussion / Korean Noir:The Age of Shadows (2016)
« on: November 20, 2017, 08:29:19 PM »
R2 DVD from Amazon UK. 10

"The early bird gets caught."

* This review may contain spoilers ***

Getting the chance to host the ICM film festival for the second time,I took a look at the titles set for festival viewing. Recently watching his magnificent 2003 Horror A Tale of Two Sisters,I was absolutely thrilled to see Kim Jee-woon's latest in the listings,which led to me stepping into the shadows.

The plot-

1920's Korea:

Under Occupation from the Japanese,a Resistance movement starts building underground to overthrow the invaders from Korea. Wanting to root out troublemakers, the Japanese order Korean police captain Lee Jung-chool to track down members of the Resistance. Known for doing deals to stay on the safe side of the Occupiers,Chool is hit by the death of Resistance member Kim Jan-OK,who used to be a school friend. Learning of Jan-OK's murder weighing heavy on Chool, Resistance leader Che-san begins attempting to turn Chool to their side,as the Resistance start planning a major fightback,by making bombs in the shadows.

View on the film:

Unleashing his first period piece, co-writer/(with Ji-min Lee/ Jong- dae Park and Kathy Pilon) director Kim Jee-woon & cinematographer Kim Ji-yong create an immaculate presentation,with dazzling crane shots gliding along the rich primary colours covering the corridors of the ruling Japanese,Jee-woon sends coiled shots down the drenched in fog streets,where Resistance fighters are attempting to walk down unnoticed. Retaining the eye he had in examining the psychological horror in A Tale of Two Sisters, (with the torture that the Resistance fighters suffer being bloody and blunt,as tightly-held close-ups reveal their resistance to giving secrets away) Jee-woon brilliantly expands his psychological examination into Neo-Noir, where this age of shadows is lit with beautiful panel shots and elegant low-lighting capturing the anxiety of being caught,that the Resistance is under.

Following the Resistance's plan of attack at every stage of inception, Jee-Woon and Ji-Yong uncover griping Neo- Noir set-pieces such as a 20 minute train journey,set alight by Jee- Woon's ultra-stylised tracking weaving between Resistance fighters hiding with the passengers,and the mighty fist of the police walking down each carriage in long takes of them trying to sniff out the rebels.Giving them not only the Occupiers,but fears of betrayal within their own group to fight against, the screenplay by Jee-woon/Ji- Min / Jong-dae and Kathy Pilon sharply turn the screws of Noir pressure on the gang, via every move to bring Chool closer to the group being drenched in anxiety. Making the 2 and a half run time feel like nothing, the writers bravely show little concern over Chool (played by a superb Song Kang-ho) being likable,as any help he offers to the Resistance is balanced with sudden outbursts of brutality that explode into a pitch-black ending of deep Film Noir pessimism,where Chool sets alight the age of shadows.




“I never forget a face,even battered ones.”

** This review may contain spoilers ***

September 2016:

Searching for movies online that a family friend was after,I got told about a Neo-Noir he had been interested in seeing for years, that was an early credit for Marion Cotillard. Checking various sites,the only think I could find was a French DVD,with no English Subtitles.

October 2017:

Whilst getting to place an order with a DVD seller,I decided to have another go at finding the movie,and stumbled on a DVD with English Subtitles…Only on Amazon Canada. Hoping to get the flick right away,I found no seller who would send it to the UK. Mentioning this in passing to the DVD seller,I was happily caught by surprise,when they said that they could order it from Canada,and then send it to me, (shame the DVD could not claim for flyer miles!)which led to me at last discovering the private affair.

The plot:

After being missing for over six months, Rachel Siprien's mum hires private detective François Manéri as a last roll of the dice in finding her daughter. Learning from the cops that they have hardly any clues over what has happened to her, Manéri begins visiting the clubs she went to and the friends Siprien,which leads to two thugs breaking his knuckles,and telling Manéri to stop checking Siprien's friends list. Catching the eye of Siprien's friend Clarisse Entoven, (who he starts sleeping with) Manéri opens the box to Siprien's private affairs.

View on the film:

Linking Manéri and Siprien together,the alluring Marion Cotillard (who appears naked a number of times) gives a excellent performance as Entoven, whose free-spirit personality allows Cotillard to give the title a mischievous Femme Fatale glint in the eye. Given the challenge of holding the big twist together, Cotillard does incredibly well in one of her first film credits of bringing the revelation across smoothly, via calmly giving Entoven's free-spirit nature a frosty sting. Rolling Manéri into the case looking like a total mess, Thierry Lhermitte gives a great, rugged performance as Film Noir loner Manéri.

Unwrapping the hidden seedy underbelly of the city, Lhermitte strikes Manéri with a grit that bleeds out in every attempt made to stop him,as he tightens his focus on finding Spirien,whilst allowing his attention to drift away,as Manéri becomes more entangled with Entoven. Keeping the private affairs of Entoven and her family closely guarded,the screenplay by writer/director Guillaume Nicloux tugs at the anxieties of Manéri, which are laid to bare in wonderfully odd sex dungeons and the clipped mutterings Manéri catches from each family member.

Shooting an arrow into Manéri's view on the case, Nicloux cuts a deeply cynical wound into Manéri with a crystallising ending,that sends Manéri off to drive back into his Neo-Noir pessimism. Cracking Manéri's hands against the red lights of the city, director Guillaume Nicloux & cinematographer Olivier Cocaul rub up a stylised Neo-Noir covered in grime, as Nicloux covers Manéri's investigation with saturated green,blue and yellow tints,that reflect the murky details Manéri uncovers of a private affair.

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