Life isn’t too short for French films. Some French films, that is.
Durin the week, I have watched Le gout des autres, directed by and featuring Agnes Jaoui, and L’ennemi public n°1, the second of two films about the notorious criminal Jacques Mesrine starring Vincent Cassel.
Le gout des autres is interesting and worthwhile because it explores human awkwardness without exposing its characters needlessly. It may not be a path-breaking piece of art, but it manages to be reasonably profound and entertaining at the same time. (By the way: Can anyone tell me how the French always manage to come up with attractive actresses who look like real people and not illustrations from a textbook in plastic surgery?)
L’ennemi public n°1 was a disappointment. I actually liked L’instinct de mort, even if Jacques Mesrine is (was) a very problematic character. Like many criminals he was first and foremost a (violent) criminal trying to come up with a justification for his acts. Still: Even if Instinct was much surface and not too much depth, I felt that I got a feeling for Mesrines personality.
After considering the issue for a couple of hours, I think my problem was this: Ennemi is, dramatically speaking, just more (as in: Two hours) of the same. Mesrine doesn’t really develop as a character during the second film. At the same time, the French state (in all likelihood for good reasons) develops a serious grudge against Mesrine with the shooting executed by a division of the police in 1979. It would have been interesting if the second film had turned the perspective and followed the process which led to a decision to kill Mesrine.
But on the other hand that may have been to controversial in France, even after thirty years.