Sunday 21 July 2019

On SBS World Movies - Barrie Pattison reports on the French thriller MEA CULPA (Fred Cavayé, France, 2014)

Delving into the SBS World Movies again delivers Fred Cavayé’s 2014 Mea Culpa. Flashes of buddies Vincent Lindon & Gilles Lellouche kidding about at the beach with their families and the pair flipping down the "Police" indicator to join the high speed chase with a smash up, result of checking the mobile 'phone, leaving three wrapped bodies on the road. 

The chief asserts “If he tests positive, he’s going down.” Lindon gets sent to the frog slammer and his marriage to Nadine Labaki (director of 2007's Caramel, below) falls apart leaving him with no job and no family. 

Her new squeeze takes her and Lindon’s son Max Baissette de Malglaive for a surprise outing to a bullfight - something Labaki isn’t too happy about. The kid doesn’t like it either and goes to the loo, only to find a gang of bald Slavonic heavies in black leather jackets about to blow away an associate. Chase through the tunnels of the arena.

These guys are persistent about witnesses and we get the film’s reason for existence - three set piece chase-gun fights where they take off after the boy through the markets outside the cop station, then where Lindon and Lellouche find themselves outgunned setting out to take them down in the Why Not bordello, demolishing the place as they go, and on the fast train to Aix. 

No denying these have great kinetic energy and introduce bits of staging we haven’t seen before - the silhouettes of the pistol wielding antagonists where our hero isn’t sure which one to put a round into or crashing out of the carriage window onto the rail tracks and so on.

We get the explanation of the film’s desaturated flashbacks providing a kind of downbeat happy ending to go with bullying in the police locker room, air bubbles in the hospitalised nasty’s drip and “people go to jail for different reasons.”

Lindon and Lellouche can do this on autopilot and still look convincingly ravaged and disillusioned. Cavayé’s third feature doesn’t drive on ferocious logic like his 2008 Pour elle/Anything for Her (remade as the Russell Crowe thriller The Next Three Days). It just kills time efficiently. 

I don't know how many of these also-ran movies I'll watch in the hope of striking pay dirt before losing interest.

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