Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
France/United Kingdom/Ireland/Canada, 2002. Alliance Atlantis Communications, Double Down Productions Ltd., Metropolitan Films, TNVO. Screenplay by Neil Jordan, based on the screenplay Bob Le Flambeur by Auguste Le Breton and Jean-Pierre Melville. Cinematography by Chris Menges. Produced by Seaton McLean, John Wells, Stephen Woolley. Music by Elliot Goldenthal. Production Design by Anthony Pratt. Costume Design by Penny Rose. Film Editing by Tony Lawson.
Nick Nolte plays an aging gambler and ex-con whose quiet life in the south of France seems perfectly idyllic. When an opportunity comes to make a great score off of paintings hanging in a casino, he immediately takes it, but not without risk to his closest friend (Saïd Taghmaoui) or the new underaged prostitute he has taken to protecting. This excellent remake of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Bob Le Flambeur adds a more positive third act to the original plot without sacrificing the acidic bite of it, thanks to Neil Jordan’s concerning himself more with telling a story than retelling a film he’s a fan of. He even manages to modernize the French New Wave style without being gimmicky or awkward about it, something Jonathan Demme never managed to do with The Truth About Charlie. Nolte is intelligent and intense in the role, but his constant mumbling is so monotoned you’ll be straining to understand him most of the time (which doesn’t help considering everyone else has a thick French accent: perhaps subtitles are in order on this one). The highlight is the absolutely stunning photography by Chris Menges; with its Riviera slum-neon blues and high class casinos bathed in gold and orange, this film is never less than breathtaking to look at. Ralph Fiennes appears in an unbilled role as a crooked art dealer.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2002