Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
Original title: La Sentinelle
France, 1992. Why Not Productions, 2001 Audiovisuel, La Sept Cinema, Films A2, Canal+, Investimage 3, Sofiarp, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Procirep. Original Scenario by Arnaud Desplechin, adaptation by Pascale Ferran, Noémie Lvovsky, Emmanuel Salinger. Cinematography by Olivier Chambon, Caroline Champetier, Julien Hirsch, Arthur Le Caisne. Produced by Nicole Arbib, Pascal Caucheteux, Gregoire Sorlat. Music by Marc Oliver Sommer. Production Design by Antoine Platteau. Costume Design by Bernadette Beaudet, Agnes Falque, Valerie Pozzo di Borgo. Film Editing by Francois Gedigier. Cannes Film Festival 1992.
Emmanuel Salinger arrives in Paris from Germany where he lived with his French diplomat father, beginning medical school to specialize in pathology while connecting with his sister who is aiming to achieve great things in the world of opera. After some trouble with the border patrol, he arrives in his hotel room to discover that someone has placed a severed head in his suitcase that becomes a private obsession for him, constantly trying to unearth details about it in his free time from his practical classes. Strange connections with espionage from behind the iron curtain begin to make themselves better known the more he investigates, leading to ties with his eccentric roommate (Bruno Todeschini), while a beautiful art history student (Emmanuelle Devos) captures his heart and provides love interest. Salinger is a colourless blank in the centre of the film, his constantly stymied expression very difficult to sympathize with, while Desplechin’s plotting is obscure to the point of frustrating and fails to create a sense of mystery in even the most intelligently subtle way.