One reason and one reason alone prompted me to watch The Big Picture (2010, director Eric Lartigau) when I stumbled upon the French movie in the Netflix Instant cornucopia.
After I spotted Romain Duris’s name in the cast, the decision about seeing the film was no longer “Should I?”
My mouse cursor hit the “Play” button of its own accord and the movie started streaming.
Duris is a first class actor whose work I’ve enjoyed in movies like Paris, Heartbreaker etc.
In The Big Picture, Duris is again in tremendous form carrying the film almost entirely on his shoulders.
Thriller? – Partly
Now no man (yes, not even a French guy) likes to be made a cuckold of, particularly when he’s a devoted husband dearly in love with his wife.
So it’s easy to grasp Paul’s intense distress and anger when he discovers his wife Sarah has been unfaithful to him through her adulterous fling with a less than successful photographer.
When his wife leaves home with the kids and her lover Grégoire Kremer keeps taunting him, Paul (Romain Duris) snaps.
As the taunts and mocking get unbearable, Paul flies into a wild rage and, mon dieu, ends up accidentally killing the man.
At this point, you think, aha, the movie is going to be a fine thriller.
Greg’s body has to be taken care of and then there’s the crucial task of keeping the dead man’s friends from getting suspicious over his absence.
You also wonder if Paul can get away with the killing?
To my great surprise and eventual delight, the movie headed off in a most unexpected direction, returning to the ‘action’ phase only in the last 10-minutes.
The Big Picture is more than just a thriller.
Oddly enough, the killing provides the former lawyer Paul an opportunity to rediscover himself and see the world in a different light.
Director Eric Lartigau skillfully maintains the tension and ensures all through the movie that nothing is predictable.
The movie appears to have been shot in Paris and along the Adriatic Coast in Central Europe.
The photography is splendid. But I must say that some parts of Central Europe are dirt poor and look no different from India (well, almost).
The film’s ending may leave many dissatisfied because for some inexplicable reason people crave neat endings in movies.
Something that never ceases to surprise me because real life rarely offers neat endings.
Maybe on a psychological level people crave neat endings in movies because it eludes them so much in real life.
The English title for the movie is not appropriate. The French title L’Homme qui voulait vivre sa vie (The Man Who Wanted to Live his Life) a lot more in sync with what we see on the screen.
I was so taken in my Romain Duris’ performance in The Big Picture that I quickly moved his 2005 film The Beat That My Heart Skipped to the top of my Netflix queue.