Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:03 am 
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Michaël R. Roskam: Le Fidèle/Racer & the Jailbird (2017) - PARIS


Bibi & Gigi

Reviews are mixed on this (AlloCiné press rating a piddling 2.8), but it has tons going for it even if it's just high-powered bullshit. Begin with the impressive Belgian director Michaël R. Roskam, whose 2011 debut Bullhead was also Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts' impressive breakout film. (Roskam also directed The Drop in English, a Dennis Lehane adaptation starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace and with Schoenaerts.) The costar of this explosive, doomed love story of a sexy, dangerous gangster (Gino, Schoenaerts) and a wild woman racing driver (Bibi) is another obvious cinematic risk-taker who started off with a bang, Adèle Exarchopoulos of Kechiche's Blue Is the Warmest Color.

I don't think any of this necessarily makes any sense - how could they be passionate, dedicated lovers and she never find out that his job is conducting violent gang robberies? - but nonetheless the movie is filmed with panache (with realism in both the violence and the sex) and these two actors make an undeniably hot couple. Key element: a screenplay with the name of Thomas Bidegain, the writer for Jacques Audiard's greatest successes. Schoenaerts costarred with the French megastar Marion Cotillard in Audiard's Rust and Bone, one of the biggest feathers in his cap.

But while the chemistry between the stars and their minute-by-minute authenticity never falter, Bidegain throws too many gimmicks into the pot here and as Owen Gleiberman points out in his Variety review, the movie turns into a mess and encounters impossible obstacles to the love story in its second half of an over-long (if involving) 130 minutes. Nevertheless I'm as ready to watch Schoenaerts and more ready to watch Exarchopoulos - if still unable to spell their names. Opened in France 1 Nov. (English title 'Racer and the Jailbird’.) Watched at MK2 Hautefeuille/Saint Michel 3 Nov. Debuted Toronto, Venice. Belgium's Best Foreign Oscar entry.


Racer & the Jailbird/Le Fidèle 130 mins., debuted at Toronto Nov. 2017, at least eight other festivals including Venice, Zurich, London, Chicago and Leiden. French theatrical opening 1 Nov. 2017, US theatrical opening 4 May 2018, City Cinemas Village East NYC; Nuart Theater, Los Angeles. Metascore 54.

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