Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Autumn (Ra'Up McGee, 2004)

If the prospect of an American-directed French homage to American film noir sounds messy, take comfort in the fact that Ra'Up McGee handles it gracefully in Autumn, a 2004 film that just recently got a DVD release in the US. Starring Laurent Lucas (my favorite French actor) and Irene Jacob as Jean-Pierre and Michelle, childhood friends who went through a traumatic event together and find each other years later. Both of them, as well as a third friend, have clearly been shaped by the event, but McGee never beats you over the head with the fact that Jean-Pierre is a hitman and Michelle moonlights as a bomb assembler probably because of what happened to them twenty years ago.

When Jean-Pierre and Michelle find one another again, it's love. Again, McGee's clever screenplay saves the audience from the usual cinematic archetypes of the long-lost love, now found; there are no falling in love scenes, and in fact, they go from a brief conversation in a restaurant to the bathtub together, as comfortable as ever. There are several gaps like this in the film, but rather than detract from the story and characterization, they enhance it by letting the viewer make up his or her own mind. If only more movies were so optimistic in their audience!

The cinematography and directorial prowess is really remarkable for a first-time feature director like McGee. Laurent Lucas is, as always, a great asset to the film, as is Irene Jacob; not only do the two leads deliver great performances, but their chemistry is believable and authentic. The main story is that of lovers on the run, trying to figure out why, exactly, they're running with this suitcase of mystery, but the secondary plots, about Jean-Pierre's hitman boss and colleagues, are just as subtle and engaging as the main plotline.

Polaroids are the main motif of the film, as Michelle takes pictures of everything she wants to remember, a la Memento, but it is sentimental rather than necessary. It is a beautiful touch to the story of two people who remember too much about their pasts. The reviews I read claimed the movie has no heart under its film noir veneer, but if you're not moved by Jean-Pierre's mad dash on the subway platform near the end of the film, I don't know what to tell you. If you're interested in seeing more stills from the movie, check here, and I couldn't recommend this movie more.


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Comments on "Autumn (Ra'Up McGee, 2004)"


Blogger Bob Turnbull said ... (3:23 PM) : 

This looks great Dana...Thanks for the review as I had never even heard of the film before. Modern takes on noir are certainly always going to at least get my interest and if you throw Irene Jacob into the mix...Well, it sells itself.

I love some of the compositions within the frame that McGee has chosen. It shows someone who obviously cares a great deal about the visual story as well as the script.


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