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December 06, 2011

Point Blank (2010)

point blank 2010b.jpg

A bout portant
Fred Cavaye - 2010
Magnolia Pictures Region 1 DVD

Yes, I've read the grumbling of those who think only one film can have a title, and understand their point of view, and yes, I've seen and loved the John Boorman film of the same title. Still, as far as I'm concerned, this newish French film could well have been titled Breathless.

The first shot of the film comes like an unexpected punch in the gut and doesn't really let up. There's a little bit of space between the action and suspense to help tug the story along, but with a running time of less than an hour and a half, there's no dawdling, no padding of running time. And whether you want to call this film by its English language title or not, it's still a good thriller by any name.

point blank 2010 a.jpg

A guy, clutching his stomach crashes into a metal wall, and is chased by two other guys with guns. The running guy, Hugo, runs into a tunnel and, whamo, gets hit by a motorcycle. Hospitalized, Hugo is almost killed by someone dressed as a doctor. The male nurse, Samuel, who saves Hugo gets beat up by some intruders who kidnap his very pregnant wife, Nadia. Samuel gets in over his head making all sorts of bad decisions in his attempt to rescue his Nadia, more so because the Cavaye deliberately makes things unclear until near the end. Suffice to say that there are some good bad guys and some very bad bad guys. And this is one of those few times when I truly wasn't certain what would happen next.

Cavaye's debut feature, Pour Elle was remade by Paul Haggis as The Next Three Days. I'd certainly like to see Cavaye's film. Cavaye was previously a fashion photographer, but what he has here is a stripped down visual style that doesn't call attention to itself, concentrating on the story. There is no wasteful imagery, no need to underline anything, but it does demand that you pay attention to what's happening on the screen. The action takes place in the Paris of someone who knows the city so well that any of the usual tourist sites are avoided. This may reflect an idealistic viewpoint, looking beyond race and gender with the mix of characters, and having the protagonist be a male nurse. Maybe having Samuel caught between Hugo, with his stomach wound, and Nadia, who's about to give birth at any moment, is too much of a parallel setup. What works better is the integration of how electronic communications are used, especially in a very surprising, and sometimes amusing, set piece. Having worked with images as a photographer, Cavaye reminds us that no matter what we are looking at, we may not be seeing the full story.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at December 6, 2011 08:00 AM


This sort of utterly ridiculous yet utterly gripping concoction used to be the sort of film Hollywood was known for, and yet which now only French directors seem to be able to pull off with real gusto. I enjoyed this movie enormously, especially in how Cavaye seemed to cannily ground the absurd story in characters whose look and attitudes could easily have stumbled out of "serious" French films like Le Petit Lieutenant and Un Prophete.

Posted by: Roderick Heath at December 7, 2011 06:02 AM

I wouldn't be surprised if there was an English language remake already in the works.

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