Thursday, November 15, 2012

"The Big Picture": a French thriller echoes "The Talented Mr. Ripley": can you become someone else?

The Big Picture” (the French title is “L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie”, which means “The man who would want to live his life”), from Eric Gartigau (novel by Douglas Kennedy with the U.S. title) does indeed echo “The Talented Mr. Ripley”.  Paul Exben (Romain Duris) has it all as a big-shot lawyer, but can’t keep his wife Sara (Marina Fois) away from an earthy photographer Greg Kremer (Eric Ruf), who is physically less appealing than the lively, debonair and slender Paul (who also has conspicuously more chest hair). There are small kids in the family, and Paul is a good pap.  But when Paul  confronts Greg and Greg’s old-fashioned studio, he “manslaughters” Greg, and goes on the lam, and destroys all the evidence.

He winds up in Montenegro, rents a secluded  old place on the mountainous coast, and gradually takes on Greg’s identity, merely by playing with Greg’s hobby and attracting local attention to his own artistic talents.  Now, however, he has to keep a low profile and live by his wits to stay out of jail.  Some of the locals are indeed interesting, such as the 60-something Bartholome (Niels Arestrup). 

There are a couple of scenes that play the card of some people objecting to being photographed in public (because of Facebook tagging?)
The film even sets all of this up in the opening, when the Parisian establishment lawyer Paul counsels a teenager about to inherit money not to drop school and work just to take up photography.  The “idee fixe” is planted.

Can one really “become” someone else?  This is not a question about "identity theft".  I’ve fantasized the idea of waking up and finding I have a 27-year-old body and the life memory of another musician-composer as well as my own. Another chance? I wonder if any principle in physics or general relativity precludes that idea.  But of course, I can only be myself, for all eternity.  I may find someone who thinks like me and expresses himself life me, and has two or three  generations ahead of him in life, but – well – the original music really is very different, even if the worldview is similar.  At a certain level, everyone is unique.   But the sci-fi film possibilities could be there. 

The film was produced by EuropaCorp and is distributed in the IS by Digital Factory. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Little Canyon (top image).  Although it looks like Provence in France, it’s actually in northeastern Alabama; I visited it in 1989. 
I saw this at the West End in Washington DC, before a relatively large crowd for 5 PM on a weekday.  

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