The French Collection: Volume 2 - Thrillers

The French Collection: Volume 2 - Thrillers


Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Once upon a time, France was famous for producing world-beating thrillers, with directors like Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jean-Pierre Melville and Claude Chabrol all helping to secure the nation's place as a cinematic capital of suspense – and of late, as Tell No One (2006), The Serpent (2006) and A Few Days n September (2006) have all met with relative success at the international box office, once again the thriller genre seems to be reclaiming its residency in the land of the Gauls.

No doubt it is with this in mind that Artificial Eye has decided to re-release three of its best titles from the recent past into a new package, entitled The French Collection: Volume 2 – Thrillers. This is an excellent, indeed a must-have assemblage of discs – except of course for anyone who already owns the DVDs released individually by Artificial Eye.

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Michael Haneke's wowed critics, polarised viewers, and generally perplexed all comers with its bourgeois-baiting politics, its shock tactics, and its final long take that supposedly contained the hidden solution to the film's layered ambiguities (while in fact it merely replayed the mystery, projecting it onto the next generation).

Jacques Audiard's refashions James Toback's New York-set Fingers (1978) - itself a virtual remake of Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973) - in which a young thug finds himself compromised by more elevated concerns. Except that in Audiard's hands, even though the story remains more or less the same, it is made moodier, more poetic, and impossibly (but still convincingly) French. It is a masterclass in how great a remake can be.

Last but not least is Dominik Moll's (2005), a Lynchian laugh at the expense of a man in trouble, as he comes under threat as much from his older boss' seductive wife as from the Nordic rodent that has mysteriously lodged itself in the apartment's plumbing. This surreal tale of marriage, madness and metempsychosis is by turns satirical, unsettling and cruelly funny.

If you have not seen these three films, then The French Collection: Volume 2 – Thrillers affords the perfect opportunity to catch up with some of the finest pieces of Gallic cinema from the last few years. There is, however, one problem. None of these is, at least in any conventional sense, what one might think of as a thriller. So, fantastic films – but a shame about the collection's title (and its implied raison d'être).

Reviewed on: 14 Jan 2008
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The French Collection: Volume 2 - Thrillers packshot
Three top-notch films from across the Channel, now out to own as a box set.
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Director: See individual reviews

Writer: See individual reviews

Starring: See individual reviews

Year: 2008

Runtime: 353 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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