Trilogy 1: On The Run

Trilogy 1: On The Run


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A man escapes. It sounds like the opening line to a Jean-Pierre Melville scenario and the film has a similar starkness to it. A man escapes in Grenoble: a simple tale.

As part of an ambitious project by actor/writer/director Lucas Belvaux to make a cinematic triptych with the same six actors, covering three separate genres, the first one, On The Run, is a thriller.

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How Bruno (Belvaux) makes it over the wall of the high security prison is never divulged, but he's there at the beginning, running like the devil, with bullets flying around his feet.

In the Melville tradition, dialogue is minimal and explanation non-existent. It doesn't hugely matter that you discover later that Bruno was a terrorist of the far left, a front line political activist, whose belief in the cause - The Popular Army - has not diminished after 20 years inside.

The film asks, "Who is this guy?" and "How is he going to survive with the entire police force on his tail?" The question is, can you empathise? Are rudimentary disguises sufficient to fool the filth? Why doesn't he leg it over the Italian border when he has the chance, rather than hang about at the centre of danger?

Not knowing has its advantages; everything comes as a surprise. Bruno is not entirely sure what he's doing, although appears to be contemplating a raid to sping his comrades. He makes contact with the only member of the group (Catherine Frot) not incarcerated, who is married now, with a young son. She does not feel the same about The Movement, or its methods, and is determined not to be suckered back in, despite Bruno's desperate plight.

In the neo-realistic style of handheld cameras and grainy colour, the film is more honest than entertaining. Bruno has become like a wild thing, alert to danger, ruthless in defence of his territory, beyond reason or morality. Trust is not a word in his vocabulary, although violence is.

The performances reflect the mood. If you can assemble a hand gun with your eyes closed, you are not going to steal a scene for the sake of ego. Belvaux conveys the icy determination of the lone assassin with clinical efficiency.

As in life, it is the unexpected that highjacks your attention.

Reviewed on: 13 Nov 2003
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A homegrown terrorist escapes from jail in Grenoble and stays one step ahead of the police.
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Director: Lucas Belvaux

Writer: Lucas Belvaux

Starring: Lucas Belvaux, Catherine Frot, Ornella Muti, François Morel, Dominique Blanc, Gilbert Melki

Year: 2002

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Belgium/France


EIFF 2003

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