Pascal Hofmann, a young man with a medical degree and a taste for life’s little luxuries, is considered one of the richest men in France. What he will do next, to take this exciting but tragic life – turned out to be futile – into anything more than a story, remains a mystery. When he is stabbed to death by a man living near his home, everybody – his estranged wife, a gardener and soon-to-be wife, his estate agent and a gardener who rents out their flat – has a motive.
The film adaptation of a controversial bestselling book by the late Bruno Dumont.
How life imitates art? I’ve seen this much, then? If you’re familiar with this well-made film, it’s too bad. I wanted the story to be richer, longer and more complex. For every film, there comes a moment when the story just does not quite work. When The White Ribbon, Dardenne Brothers’ movie set in 19th-century Germany, came out, in 2009, I was concerned. I remember the same look on my face – a confrontation. I didn’t want to try and defend the movies. I didn’t want to have a discussion about cinema. I just wanted the experience to be better. After The White Ribbon, both the experience and the films suffered, and never quite recovered. In a way, I was afraid that the number of new films would fall. But they all did! If they were not going to last, they certainly would not have flourished. This is a dangerous movement in cinema.
Does your dislike of much recent cinema stem from the fact that you are a man who tends not to be deterred by the contemporary film world’s diversity of opinion? Yes and no. It’s a puzzle – a frustration – to hear everyone say: “It’s no longer like that!” And then I look and see a film that feels too traditional. I remember most people complaining about the excesses of the film The Da Vinci Code in 2006, which purported to take a great historical novel that was popular in its day and, somehow, reimagine it for a new generation in a modern setting. The theories in the book have since been proven false, of course, but the movie still brought a great deal of attention to a critical book.
Review: Amour (2013)
At the Venice film festival this year, it was also the true story of the wife of an Austrian banker who took her own life, and the cannibalistic criminal, Valmont (played by Mathieu Amalric), whom she entrusted to kill her. It was an extremely shocking film. The critic Richard Brody observed that it was “an overripe find – the source of a few nightmares – to which an American audience will be wholly unprepared”. Can you understand my concerns?
Then there was Django Unchained. Quentin Tarantino’s “true crime” film, an unexpected choice for the festival’s opening film, was very offensive and very disturbing to everyone. I hate to speak ill of any of his films but he doesn’t seem like the type who would settle for a difference of opinion, so it was not a surprise to learn that a disagreement between him and the theatre producer Harvey Weinstein produced a scene which (in my view) could only help his career. It has also been reported that Tarantino hosted a fund-raising party for the Weinstein Company when the scandal broke – the opposite of what most other filmmakers did. We still do not know whether Tarantino was involved in some of Weinstein’s alleged behaviours.
I remember most people complaining about the excesses of the film The Da Vinci Code.