Thursday, July 5, 2012
The new film directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, the director who gave us La Haine, the movie that introduced the actor Vincent Cassel to the U.S. Cassel is not in Rebellion, but Kassovitz is, playing the lead, Capitaine du GIGN Philippe Legorjus, a hostage negotiator sent to the French colony of New Caledonia when a group of separatists try to take over an army outpost, killing some and taking others captive (it’s one of those based on a true story stories—you know the drill). Legorjus quickly finds himself in a dicey situation; usually in charge of a situation, he is immediately made subordinate to the army (awkward) who has their own agenda, based partly on vengeance, partly on racism and partly on the fact that there is a run off election for Premier in France in little more than a week and this sort of incident is becoming just a tad inconvenient for all concerned. The movie is never boring. Kassovitz does whatever he can to keep the tension up and the story moving and the rather complicated plot is very clearly told (screenplay by Kassovitz, Benoit Jaubert and Pierre Geller). I doubt you’ll be disappointed. At the same time, for me it never really became anything more than a solidly made, historical semi-epic. The sex was good, but there were no fireworks. There are two reasons for this: the first is the character of Legorjus who is never very interesting in and of himself. What he does is interesting, but he himself has no real personality to speak of (he’s not the sort who takes all the oxygen out of the room when he joins a party, but at the same time, he never really adds anything to it either). It’s hard to say whose fault this is, the screenwriter or Kassovitz himself; it’s probably both. I’m not convinced that the writers provided the character with a personality; at the same time, it’s quite possible that a different actor (like Jean Reno or Daniel Auteil, or even Vincent Cassel) might have been able to provide a personality all on their own. The second issue is the directing. Truth to say, it’s a bit bland and uninspiring. In fact, it often feels like Kassovits is more a traffic cop than director, just making sure that all the various elements are clear and understandable (which is no easy feat in itself). And when he does try to provide some directorial flourishes (a dream sequence, voice overs and a long tracking shot at the end), they all tend to call attention to themselves and never seem quite an integral part of the proceedings. And the whole thing ends with one of those summing up monologues where the writer, via the central character, tries to bring closure to everything and give it all meaning. This almost never works and here, true to form, it’s a bit hard to listen to. At the same time, I can’t blame the writers. I know how they feel. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there.