French Actor Daniel Auteuil Takes Hiatus From Puerile Comedies, Joins Gangster Pic 'Le Guetteur'

by Christopher Bell
July 1, 2011 4:00 AM
7 Comments
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Matthieu Kassovitz Also In The Cast



Remember when Michael Haneke's masterful "Caché" hit audiences in the gut circa 2005? Looking back, the film seems to be the perfect culmination of all of the filmmaker's themes and aesthetic, a fascination of a video-obsessed culture prone to violent outbursts with the patient, brooding style he had been honing for more than a decade. It was also the second collaboration with actress Juliette Binoche, a brilliant performer who began seeking out alliances with auteurs in the early oughts ("Flight of the Red Balloon" with Hsiao-hsien Hou, "Summer Hours" with Olivier Assayas, and "Certified Copy" with Abbas Kiarostami). However, those of us already in tune with the Haneke oeuvre and la Binoche's excellence were more surprised by the leading performance of the film - Daniel Auteuil.

Working steadily in France since the 1970s, Auteuil was relatively unknown in these parts before Haneke cast him in his art-thriller. While we won't say that he gave the portrayal of a lifetime, he did have the difficult task of carrying a slow, subtle movie. Any overacting would've destroyed the underlying sense of threat, any hamminess would've made the character's remorse less substantial. So after working with an critic-approved auteur, what did the Algerian-born actor do?

Star in dopey comedies.

Not everybody shares Binoche's craving to work with auteurs. We understand that people need to work and that, as an actor, staying in the public eye is generally a good thing. That said, when you go from hanging out with a now Palm d'or-winning director to starring in a cringe-worthy picture about a man with no chums ("My Best Friend") and a goofy romp about a man with an 80s glam alternate personality ("Me Two"), well, you certainly become an easy target, to say the least. But maybe all of that is behind him, as Cineuropa is reporting that he has teamed with French actor/director Mathieu Kassovitz ("Amelie"/"Gothika," respectively) for the gangster pic "Le Guetteur" (or "The Lookout") set to be helmed by Michele Placido ("Angel of Evil").

Co-written by newcomers Cédric Melon and Denis Brusseaux, the narrative follows detective Mattei (Auteuil) in his hunt for the marksman (Kassovitz) who spoiled a plot to catch a notorious team of bank-robbers. Olivier Gourmet ("The Son"), Luca Argentero ("Eat Pray Love"), Violante Placido ("The American"), Arly Jover ("Blade"), Nicolas Briançon ("Russian Dolls"), and Francis Renaud ("Mutants") also star.

While the work of Placido is unfamiliar to us and any crime story runs the risk of being incredibly shallow and cliche, a comparison to Michael Mann's "Heat" and the inclusion of a Dardenne Brothers bff encourages optimism. Shooting begins July 4th, so while those in the states will be legally/illegally enjoying bright flickers of distant lights and consistent raucous noises, France will be holding the closest thing cinephiles will ever get to a Haneke/Dardenne fisticuffs.

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7 Comments

  • dlynne | February 10, 2013 7:07 PMReply

    I stumbled across this article was shocked by its content. Daniel Auteuil is one the greatest living actors in the world. His latest movie, The Well Diggers Daughter, is one of the sweetest I've seen.

  • joodsy | January 7, 2012 1:22 PMReply

    i endorse everything said previously. why don't people take any pride in doing their homework any more, particularly when professing to know what they are talking/writing about. how any one interested in film doesn't know the work of daniel auteuil beggars belief. he is a truly great actor (french or otherwise) extraordinarily versatile, honest and sincere. he is the reason to watch any film he is in.

  • Jimmylegs | July 2, 2011 4:47 AMReply

    My god; is there no editor? I give as much good word of mouth to this site as anyone but there come a time when the quality of writers needs to be reassessed.

    Watch some movies guys. Auteuil is one of the greatest actors period.

    -Widow of Saint-Pierre
    -Girl on the Bridge
    -La Separation
    -A Heart in Winter
    -Jean de Florette/Mason of the Spring

    All splindid and critically praised. Working with the likes of Leconte.(multiple times), Sautet, Techine, and Berri.

    Pathetic that this guy is allowed to write on here.

  • Fred | July 1, 2011 11:07 AMReply

    Yet another marginalization of a great veteran actor here...usually it's the American guys, kind of surprising to see the tendency cross into international territory. Haneke's oeuvre must have had enough profound doom to qualify as worth checking out by the time Cache was released in '05 than the actor's since a great deal more of Auteuil's work (namely the two cited by laura) had been released in theatrical and video form by then.

  • Babette | July 1, 2011 9:26 AMReply

    What is it with this site? Used to be so good and informative. Now, it's just a bunch of hacks spewing opinions about things that they know nothing about, nor bothered to do any research.

  • laura | July 1, 2011 7:50 AMReply

    Clearly you haven't seen many of Auteuil's films. He is, and has been for many years, one of France's very best actors. Check out Un Coeur En Hiver and Jean de Florette and then marvel that the range this actor possesses. If you had seen these, his performance in Cache would not have surprised you at all.

  • MDL | July 1, 2011 6:43 AMReply

    Out of the last 11 films that Daniel Auteuil has made 5 have been comedies, 2 were dramas [1 a costume drama], 2 were gangster films and 2 were romantic films. And his next five films are all dramas including the one you mentioned as well as a remake of the Fanny trilogy.

    I think his career track record is such that he can be allowed a comedy every once in a while. But that is certainly not all he has been doing.

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