Cornish Engineering

Cornish Engineering (2007)


November 17, 2005 at 11 AM


I watched l’Appartement last night, an intriguing French film from 1996. It’s practically an hommage to Hitchcock — specifically Vertigo — complete with the mistaken identity femme fatale and a Bernard Herrman-inspired musical score.

The film follows a Parisian named Max (Vincent Cassel) who stumbles by chance into a woman that he believes to be a former girlfriend (Monica Bellucci) who vanished bewitchingly two years before. A trail of clues leads him on a mysterious chase through the Paris that we’d all like to love, a city of charming cafés, sumptuously decorated flats, and intoxicating perfumes. (As opposed to that other Paris.)

Written and directed by Gilles Mimouni, the film features some alarmingly dated fashions (did Parisians really dress like that with such terrible hair in the mid-’90s?), as well as ample French film stereotypes (including some marvellously silly philosophical dialogue, and sex scenes where shirts and skirts fly off with unnatural ease). Nevertheless, it’s a classic suspense film; quite effortlessly entertaining with enough plot twists to keep you on your toes right to the very end. Romane Bohringer’s performance also deserves mention. (I’d tell you why, but it might spoil the plot.)

I would recommend it as a rental, but unfortunately for my Canadian and American readers, it appears that the film is unavailable in North America on DVD. This may be a bit of a conspiracy as the film was remade last year into the American film Wicker Park (by many accounts a train wreck of a movie) and the restricted distribution of l’Appartment appears to be an effort to force you to watch the remake instead. Pity.

I haven’t seen Wicker Park so I can’t comment on its inferiority, but when is the last time an American remake of a foreign film was actually better than the original?

Anyway, next time you’re in Europe, consider trying to find it. Of course, there are other ways when the system won’t let you find the movie you want. Not that I’m insinuating anything.

Subsequently: There’s No Cliff

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