Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Un héros très discret (A Self-Made Hero) (1996)

Director: Jacques Audiard
Writers:  Jean-Francois Deniau, Alain Le Henry, Jacques Audiard
Cast:       Mathieu Kassovitz, Anouk Grinberg, Sandrine Kiberian, Jean-Louis Trintignant
Language: French

Set in France at the end of World War Two Albert Dehousse finds out his father wasn't a war hero and his mother is a collaborator. He leaves his wife and goes to Paris. Gradually he inveigles himself with the resistance movement by inventing stories about his own past in the movement. They trust him and he helps them to trace collaborators. 

Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the role of old Albert and do some narration while Mathieu Kassovitz, who made his name as the director of La Haine, plays the role of young Albert. This period in French history had some interesting dynamics as France didn't offer much resistance when Germans invaded them (I don't blame/taunt them for that because Germany was much stronger) and a period of four years of German occupation followed. When it ended, naturally there was animosity towards those who were considered to be collaborators. I don't totally understand much of their hatred. You can justify some of it if it is indeed directed against people who actively helped Germans in crushing the French resistance but things like baying for those who had relationships with German soldiers are bang out of order and reflects their own insecurities partly related to the emasculation that they must have felt due to occupation. Film is kind of a satirical take on this with subtlety and it kind of reminded me of 'Amelie', a terribly overrated piece of shit film. It was Audiard's second film as director, after which it took him until 2001 to come out with 'Read My Lips' as a fully evolved director with his own characteristic style.  

Overall the film is a very good watch even though you don't feel like it is indeed an Audiard film. That might have got to do with the fact that it is an adapted screenplay from a novel with minimal contribution from Audiard. He won Palme d'Or at Cannes with his latest film Dheepan this year and I can't wait to watch it. One could see 'A Self-Made Hero' as a light film set during a complex period when much rewriting of history was taking place.

Rating: 3.5/5