Monday, October 08, 2007

A Few Days in September: Grade B


A Few Days in September (2006)

Juliette Binoche, John Turturro, Sarah Forestier, Tom Riley, Nick Nolte. Writer-Director Santiago Amigorena. French and English – subtitled.

I was shocked to see how Juliette Binoche had aged, although she would say the same about me. I haven’t seen her on screen in many years, and it is a pleasure to see her again. She still has “the look” and her acting is as compelling as ever. She is some kind of a government agent, U.S. I think, trying to find the mysterious CIA rogue agent played by Nolte (who appears at the end just in time to get shot). Why she needs to find him is never clear. She has in tow his clueless adult children (Forestier and Riley). All of them are followed by enigmatic hit man Turturro. He casually kills several clerks to establish his ruthlessness while he also hunts the mysterious David. Who he works for and why he is on the hunt is unknown. Meanwhile, untrustworthy American, Saudi, and French guys are also after David. So the story is a mish-mash of a chase theme and though we never know the characters’ exact roles or motivation, it all hangs together just enough to highlight the fine acting, witty dialog, great locations (Venice and Paris), and outstanding cinematography. I especially enjoyed the technique of having the camera set to a flat depth of field then having characters walk in from the blur to the focal point. Neat. Turturro does an excellent job as a smiling, poetry-reading assassin who has to call his psychoanalyst after he kills someone. Even though the overall tone of the film is noir-ish (neon reflecting in dark, rain-slicked streets, gratuitous murders, kitty lapping the expanding pool of blood, etc.), and the category pretends to “thriller,” I would say this is actually a subtle comedy.

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