The Edge Of The Blade


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Vincent Perez as he appears in The Edge Of The Blade: 'It is like a choreography. I wanted to shoot it with wide shots to make it as realistic as possible'
"Perez manages the set-piece confrontations with precision and a nail-biting suspense." | Photo: Gaumont

As a way of settling disputes and safe-guarding honour duels provided a quick fix for the participants with no way back. The practise incredibly was only abandoned in France after the Second World War.

Although armed duels were deemed illegal they still took place anyway as way of seeking justice or revenge. Whatever else they were a radical way of preserving honour.

Copy picture

For his fourth feature as a director Vincent Perez rolls back the years to Paris in 1887 with the spectre of the First World War looming on the horizon. There were self-imposed rules to be observed, adjudicated by a tribunal.

The main protagonists are Clément Lacaze (the arresting presence of Roschdy Zem) who is a sword-master and instructor at a fencing school who tries to dissuade his nephew Adrien (Damien Bonnard) from taking part in a duel with the experienced Colonel Berchère (played by the agile Perez).

Also in the mix is Doria Tillier, fighting a feminist rear-guard action covering such subjects as equal voting rights and wages, and also the right to wear trousers, which technically were banned in France until relatively recently.

Perez manages the set-piece confrontations with precision and a nail-biting suspense including a fast and furious tussle with sabres on horseback between Lacaze and Berchère which proceeds at breakneck speed.

It is fascinating to be drawn into this time and place which is evoked with historical detail and insight, in part highlighted by the cinematography of Lucie Badinaud as well as in the editing of Sylvie Lager.

Perez with his reputation for such costume dramas as Cyrano de Bergerac (by Jean-Paul Rappeneau) and Le Bossu (On Guard) by Philippe de Broca acquits himself with distinction both behind and in front of the camera, supported by a sterling cast who never put a thrust out of place.

Reviewed on: 05 Jul 2023
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The Edge Of The Blade packshot
Paris, 1887. Duels have been officially outlawed but are still regular practice. This historical drama is set against that backdrop.

Director: Vincent Perez

Writer: Karine Silla Perez, Vincent Perez

Starring: Roschdy Zem, Doria Tillier, Vincent Perez, Guillaume Gallienne, Damien Bonnard

Year: 2023

Runtime: 101 minutes

Country: France

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