french films > Premonition



cast: Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Didier Bezace, Valérie Stroh

year: 2006

colour: yes


director: Jean-Pierre Darroussin

runtime: 97

You'll know the face, if not the name - with his careworn features, sometimes comic, sometimes melancholic, Jean-Pierre Darroussin is a stalwart of contemporary French cinema, a regular in the films of Robert Guédiguian, and a show-stopping lead in Cedric Kahn's Red Lights. In his first feature as director, Darroussin plays Charles Bénesteau, a lawyer who has left behind his well-heeled family and prestigious social standing to lead a solitary existence in a multi-racial, impoverished neighborhood. An incident in his block of flats leaves Bénesteau in loco parentis to the teenage daughter of Eastern European immigrants, but his attempts to do the right thing lead to further social isolation. However, a measured, teasing script, and Darroussin's artful sense of pacing take this pensive existential drama in unexpected directions, ending on a note of remarkable grace. Quality thesps, including Nathalie Richard and Hippolyte Girardot, add to the classiness of a film that combines social concern with a dash of Camus-esque soul searching. Darroussin combines distance and warmth as the protagonist who is also the film's central enigma. An auspicious debut for Darroussin the director, a terrific showcase for the actor.


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