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.