Anything for Her
Details: (MA15+), 96 mins, In Cinemas 4 November 2010, France,
Synopsis: Lisa (Diane Kruger) and Julien (Vincent Lindon) are married and lead a happy, quiet existence with their son Oscar (Lancelot Roch). But their lives are turned upside down one morning when the police come to their home to arrest Lisa for murder. She is sentenced to 27 years in prison. Convinced of her innocence, and faced with the failure of securing Lise's release through legal means, Julien decides to help his wife escape. Just how far will his desire to do anything for her take him?
Tense French prison break drama with a novel twist.
Suppose you’re a law-abiding, happily-married teacher with a young son, and your wife is falsely accused of murder and sentenced to jail for 20 years. How far would you go to secure her freedom?
That’s the intriguing set-up of this French thriller, a variation on the theme of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 classic The Wrong Man. Marking a stylish debut by director/co-writer Fred Cavayé, the movie has inspired a Hollywood remake.
After a slow build-up, Cavayé skilfully ratchets up the tension, interspersed with some very effective, emotional scenes, climaxing in a great action sequence.
The screenplay co-authored by Guillaume Lemans sees the cops burst into the couple’s apartment and arrest Lisa (Diane Kruger) for the murder of her boss. The evidence seems compelling: Traces of the victim’s blood were found on Lisa’s clothes and her finger prints were on the murder weapon.
It’s soon revealed that Lisa is innocent but she’s convicted, devastating her husband Julien (Vincent Lindon) and their son Oscar (Lancelot Roch). Three years later, with hopes of an appeal exhausted and Lisa making multiple suicide attempts, Julien decides his only course of action is to extricate her from prison.
The transformation of intelligent, mild-mannered Julien into a fierce, gun-toting desperado who dives into the Parisian underworld is a trifle far-fetched, although Cavayé might well argue his protagonist was driven to such extreme lengths to save his wife.
He starts meticulously plotting the operation after meeting with a guy who’d busted out of jail seven times. As much as you might sympathise with Julien’s predicament, especially after he’s mugged while trying to buy false passports, it’s hard to see him as an entirely wronged innocent after he kills a drug dealer (albeit in self-defence) and dumps the dead body of another man at a bus stop. Further spicing the drama are his testy relationships with his parents and brother.
The break-out is brilliantly staged although barely plausible, and one wonders why the cops in this sort of situation inevitably are clueless/tardy/inept.
With his baggy eyes and hang-dog appearance, Lindon is perfectly cast as a fundamentally decent everyman who’s prepared to go any lengths to rescue his wife. He shows a terrific rapport with Kruger, whose brittle character starts to disintegrate in the clink, particularly as she becomes estranged from Oscar. At the risk of sounding sexist, she’s the kind of drop-dead beauty most blokes would risk breaking into prison for. Hammou Graia plays the stereotypical, tough investigating cop who’s hot on their trail.
It’ll be interesting to see how much tinkering there is with Lionsgate’s remake, The Next Three Days, which stars Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks and opens here in January. It’s written and directed by Paul Haggis, who has two Oscars on his shelf as the writer of Crash (which he also directed) and Million Dollar Baby. If that means Haggis sticks fairly faithfully to the original and he’s kept a rein on Rusty’s bluster, it might be a cool movie.
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