Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5
Original title: L’Homme Qui Voulait Vivre Sa Vie
France, 2010. EuropaCorp, TF1 Films Production, CiBy 2000, Canal+, CinéCinéma, Cofinova 6. Scenario, adaptation and dialogue by Eric Lartigau, Laurent de Bartillat, with the collaboration of Emmanuelle Bercot, Bernard Jeanjean, and the participation of Stephane Cabel, based on the novel by Douglas Kennedy. Cinematography by Laurent Dailland. Produced by Pierre-Ange Le Pogam. Music by Evgueni Galperine, Sacha Galperine. Film Editing by Juliette Welfling. Toronto International Film Festival 2010.
A successful lawyer (Romain Duris) is informed by his partner (Catherine Deneuve, luminous as always) that she has a terminal illness and that she intends to leave him the firm when she is gone. His unhappy wife informs him that she intends to get a divorce, and he eventually gets wind of the possibility that she is already in the arms of another man. He explores this possibility and it leads him to a devastating conclusion, one which sees him covering up a crime, hitting the road, leaving his smooth counter-top life behind and pursuing a ragged existence as the opposite of his former self. The odd thing is, travelling Europe incognito and making his living as a nomadic photographer is actually the life he secretly longed for all along, but it is a difficult one to maintain considering that the actions of his past are never far behind. Duris is marvelous as a character constantly on the precipice of chance, doing his best to fulfil his responsibilities to others but forced by people’s desires to simply do what’s good for himself, and even without the razor-sharp direction and terrific screenplay the film would be well worth watching for his mercurial performance alone. The film is, however, a marvelous tribute to the likes of Patricia Highsmith, and is fully satisfying and never boring for a single moment.