Friday, 5 February 2010

Mesrine 1 & 2

You’ve no doubt heard the word, but if you haven’t seen this and you enjoy a good crime caper, I highly recommend it. Vincent Cassel carries most of this film and does so brilliantly. Appropriately, he manages to be ruthlessly violent and charming, as befits the bank robber who apparently stole the hearts of many French people during the height of his notoriety. Well, that’s the impression we get here.This being based on his autobiography, we get the story translated by both Mesrine and the director, Jean-Francoise Richet, so how much is actually ‘true’ is questionable. Still, half an hour into this epic two-parter and you won’t much care. It’s visually slick, beautifully filmed and edited to lend momentum to the escalating craziness of Mesrine’s refusal to give up taunting the police. There are prison escapes, robberies and shoot-outs galore, but also some touching scenes between father and son, and Mesrine and his estranged daughter.
   My favourite line, which destroys Mesrine’s growing delusions of revolutionary grandeur in the 70s, comes from a Left-wing friend who tells him: ‘You don’t destroy capitol. You flatter it’. Meaning that whilst attacking ‘the system’ (banks) Mesrine uses his loot to simply accumulate the trappings of bourgeois success such as cars, jewellery etc. But Mesrine’s form of action against the state is clearly never fuelled by anti-materialistic political ideology.
   My only criticism is the structure, which begins with Mesrine’s end. I think it would have been a far more exciting and tense finale had what happened not been shown right at the start.

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