Monday, February 13, 2006

Pour la Plaisir (2004)


A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

Originality, which appears to be very scarce commodity among Hollywood comedy screenwriters, still could be found among European filmmakers. One of them is Belgian director Dominique Deruddere, whose 2004 comedy EVERYBODY IS A KILLER combines French farce with certain plot elements seemingly more suitable to classic westerns.

The film begins in a Ferrari driven by Dr. Vincent Moreau (played by Samuel Le Bihan), psychiatrist and film's narrator. Flashback introduces us to small northern French town where Dr. Moreau has established a practice. Citizens are mercilessly bullied by local sociopath Maurice Weckman (played by Harry Cleven), but nobody dares do anything about it. Local mechanic François (played by François Berleand), on the other hand, is more bothered with his beautiful wife Julie (played by Nadia Ferres) and her lack of passion in bed. He confides to Dr. Moreau, his most loyal client, and says that his wife has bizarre fetish on murderers. Dr. Moreau tells him to try adapting to Julie's fantasy and François does so by bragging about committing murder. At first this works wonders for their marriage, but his confession has coincided with Weckman meeting violent death. François immediately becomes murder suspect, but his arrest makes him the most popular man in town. As he struggles to prove innocence while his town creates personality cult around him, Dr. Moreau and Julie discover that they are attracted to each other.

Guy Zilberstein's script borrows elements from classic western THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE and skilfully combines them with murder mystery, social satire and black comedy. Qualities of the script are well-matched with the qualities of director who keeps the right pace of the film, right until the excellent surprise twist at the end. The film is relatively short, but the plot and characters are well-drawn.

The casting is also very good, most notably in the case of François Berleand, French character actor specialised in the roles of villains. In this film he is very effective and much more convincing pathetic middle-class husband. Casting against the type works well also in the case of Samuel Le Bihan, whom few people would imagine as psychiatrist. Nadia Farres, on the other hand, wasn't fortunate casting choice, mostly due to lack of chemistry with Le Bihan. Belgian actor Olivier Gourmet was also somewhat over the top in his role of police detective.

Despite that, POUR LA PLAISIR deserves recommendation as very entertaining and effective combination of rarely mixed film genres.

RATING: 7/10 (+++)


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