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The Big Picture
L’Homme qui voulait vivre sa vie
Directed by Eric Lartigau
France, 2010
Cornerhouse, 24 July 2011

The Big Picture

Roman Duris’s strong central performance is what holds this film together and makes it a compelling watch.

If you take away the emotion that he brings to the role of Paul Exben, a lawyer who’d never allowed his passion for photography to blossom fully into life, then you’re left with a sequence of improbable events.  Now add that emotion once more – add all the anxiety, the despair at the demise of his marriage, the hopeless love for his children, the need for companionship which leads to vulnerability and the threat of exposure, and finally add an almost constant impulse toward flight and escape – and you have an impeccable thriller.

There’s an interesting notion at work here: it is only through a terrible event, wholly unexpected and undesired, that Paul is able at last to express himself fully as an artist.

Let me come clean and say that I’ve not read Douglas Kennedy’s source novel.  However, the film has however something of the excitement, nervous tension and amorality of Patricia Highsmith’s work.  This is a good thing.