Anything For Her

Anything For Her

****1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Julien is a schoolteacher. An ordinary man living an ordinary life, but a happy one, with his wife Lisa and their young son. Then one day everything is turned upside down when the police come crashing into the flat and arrest Lisa for murder. Her boss has been killed - she says she's innocent, but she had a motive and her fingerprints are on the murder weapon. Over the years that follow, no new evidence emerges and Julien can find no legal means to help her. When she attempts suicide and starts refusing to take her insulin, he realises that he has to get her out of there - by any means necessary, and at any cost.

Anything For Her is a great example of the principle that you don't need a complex plot to create a compelling story. Rather than relying on the twists and turns familiar to this sort of thriller, the film hinges on taking a different approach - one in which the very ordinariness of the central couple becomes the key ingredient. Those who consider it unrealistic because of that are missing the point.

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Julien is an ordinary man who must become (not merely achieve) something extraordinary in order to save what he loves, and in doing so he must give up many of the things that make him the person he is - his possessions, his home, his other loved ones, even his moral principles. He must face the possibility of a new existence in which he will always be a fugitive - yet, in so doing, he moves towards a kind of freedom (with almost Nietzschean undertones) which is far more profound than that gained simply by being outside a prison cell.

Despite the comparative lack of twists, this is a film which will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. At times it's really difficult to watch because one constantly feels that everything is going to turn out for the worst - and even when things go well, it's at a heavy price. The acting is superb throughout, especially from Vincent Lindon in the central role, and the moments when Lisa (Diane Kruger) sees her little boy are heartbreaking. This means that one really feels for these people and becomes anxious to see them succeed, even in the face of overwhelming odds. A strong supporting cast round out the film, and there's a beautifully underplayed subplot revolving around Julien's relationship with his father (Olivier Perrier).

Anything For Her restores feeling and humanity to scenes we see played out far too often in an utterly meaningless way. It packs in a good deal of action and excitement for those who like traditional thrillers, and it's packed with suspense, but it's the astute way it subverts the genre that really makes it stand out. Don't miss it.

Reviewed on: 28 May 2009
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When Julien's wife is imprisoned and all legal means fail her, he becomes determined to save her at any cost.
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Emma Slawinski ****1/2

Director: Fred Cavayé

Writer: Fred Cavayé

Starring: Vincent Lindon, Diane Kruger, Lancelot Roch, Olivier Marchal, Hammou Graïa, Liliane Rovère, Olivier Perrier

Year: 2008

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France

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