Is a robbery ever justified? Director Louis Garrel suggests it may be in his latest offering, The Innocent (L’Innocent).
The French comedy shows just what steps a son will take to protect his fun loving if rather impulsive mother.
As well as directing and writing The Innocent’s screenplay, Garrel also stars as Abel, a rather serious introverted marine biologist who is still getting over the death of his wife.
Abel couldn’t be more different from Sylvie (Anouk Grinberg), his extroverted theatrical mother, who teaches acting to jailed prison inmates and has been married three times in 10 years.
Her latest love is Michel (Roschdy Zem), one of the prisoners in her class.
When the two marry in prison Abel is extremely concerned and suspicious. He remains so when Michel is released on parole. He persuades best friend Clémence (Noémie Merlant),who was also best friends with his wife, to help him follow Michel.
Clémence eventually persuades Abel to cut Michel some slack given how much Sylvie loves him. Abel becomes more encouraged about the relationship when Sylvie and Michel decide to open a florist shop together.
Then Abel discovers a gun in Michel’s pocket and the dynamic changes.
Abel’s amateurish attempts to follow Michel result in a confrontation between the two. Michel believes he has two options – to kill Abel as his business partner suggests or recruit him for the heist he is planning. The job involves stealing Iranian caviar from a large transport truck. Michel persuades Abel to join him. On hearing of the robbery, Clémence also wants in.
Abel and Clémence are given the job of distracting the truck driver, who follows a set routine of stopping for dinner at a roadside restaurant, allowing Michel to rob the truck.
As a result of their play acting the driver is distracted but so too are Abel and Clémence as their emotions come to the fore, creating some of the movie’s most emotional scenes. Despite their convincing routine something goes terribly wrong.
One of the joys of The Innocent is watching the leads in action. Merlant’s over the top Clémence and Grinberg’s exuberant Sylvie add to the movie’s comic appeal and energy while Garrel’s conflicted, subdued and concerned Abel provides the drama and, given his powers of surveillance, some laughs.
The scenes which see Merlant and Garrel on screen together provide the poignant and romantic moments. The robbery and the fall out supply the movie’s suspense and action.
As a result, The Innocent lives up to its description as a dark, romantic, comic, familial, heist caper.
The Innocent is in cinemas from April 13.
- movie, reviews
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