The Serpent

The Serpent


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Plender (Clovis Cornillac) is a private detective with a lucrative sideline in blackmail. Ex-Foreign Legion, he knows his way around intimidation, murder and the disposal of bodies. No door is safe from his unlocking devices and when it comes to sex he has the perfect weapon. Her name is Sofia (Olga Kurylenko). She’s young, East European and can be trusted to get naked with any guy, whatever age, and be photographed in the most compromising positions. As part of a team, she is highly efficient and well trained.

With fashion photographer Vincent (Yvan Attal), Plender has another agenda. And it’s personal. They were at primary school together and Plender was one of those kids no one liked and yet hung around the cool crowd, trying to elbow in. One night, they went to an abandoned lunatic asylum and dared each other to break in. Vincent and his best friend said they’d do it, and then Plender, in an attempt to curry favour, joined them. Once inside, Vincent told Plender to climb down into the basement, knowing he was scared of the dark, and then shut him in and ran away. What they didn’t know was that a homeless pedophile used the asylum as a crash pad.

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The Serpent is a thriller of infinite cunning and surprise. Once Plender starts work on Vincent, the pace accelerates to a dangerous level and survival, whether behind bars or on the run, seems barely possible. It is not only about being set up as a sadistic pervert and murderer, with irrefutable evidence in the hands of the blackmailer, but the story of a marriage on the rocks with all its pain and anguish.

Plender is as ruthless as he is clever. He tortures Vincent without restraint or mercy, but Vincent fights back with whatever help he can muster. Too much is at stake for play to be remotely fair. Even the embalmed corpse of Plender's mother is used as a pawn in the game. By the end it is not simply Vincent’s innocence that is on the line, but the lives of his wife and children.

It is unlikely that you will be more frightened in a cinema this year.

Reviewed on: 01 Nov 2007
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The Serpent packshot
A blackmailer with a personal agenda resorts to murder.
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Director: Eric Barbier

Writer: Eric Barbier, Trân-Minh Nam, based on the novel by Ted Lewis

Starring: Yvan Attal, Clovis Cornillac, Pierre Richard, Simon Abkarian, Minna Haapkylä, Olga Kurylenko, Gérald Laroche, Jean-Claude Bouillon, Veronika Varga, Pierre Marzin, Katia Lewkowicz

Year: 2006

Runtime: 119 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France


EIFF 2007

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