Thursday 8 December 2016

Film Review: The Big Picture * * *

(15A, general release)

Paul Whitington

Published 22/07/2011 | 05:00

Eric Lartigau's The Big Picture feels at times like an arthouse version of The Talented Mr Ripley. Based on a novel by Douglas Kennedy, The Big Picture tells the story of a man who destroys all trace of himself in order to start again, and for a time it manages to retain a certain narrative tension without ever getting much past the superficial premise of its story.

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Romain Duris is Paul Exben, a successful Parisian lawyer who lives with his wife Sarah (Marina Fois) and their two children. His relationship with Sarah is inexplicably tense and, when he finds out she has begun an affair with a local photographer called Gregoire Kremer (Eric Ruf), Paul decides to confront him. But after Gregoire shows not an ounce of remorse, they clash and Gregoire is accidentally killed.

Horrified, Paul hides the body and then comes up with a more permanent solution. Gregoire was about to go to the Balkans on a photographic assignment: Paul will disappear, assume the dead man's identity and start a new life. This desperate plan lands him in all sorts of trouble, but also provokes a spiritual awakening.

All of which is all very well, but we learn nothing about his character's deeper scars and motivations. Perhaps this is a failing common to Kennedy's book, but The Big Picture is a handsome but hollow film that only appears to be about something.

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