Anything for Her (15)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Jun 2 2009To call a film a thriller is usually a lazy catch-all that can apply to anything from a bone-headed Renny Harlin flick to a Michael Haneke investigation into the darkest reaches of the human soul. Often, though, it means one thing in critical terms: ignore the story and enjoy the ride. It’s an easy imperative which applies well enough to this French prison-break yarn from first-time director Fred Cavayé, who demands that you bite your tongue during some of his film’s wilder plot turns while he diverts your attention just enough to keep you on side.
It opens with terrified, middle-aged Julien (Vincent Lindon) driving like a maniac, his face bloodied, staring in pure fear at something on the back seat. We flash back to urban, marital bliss: Julien, a teacher, and his wife Lisa (Diane Kruger), a smart, pretty executive, return loved up from a night out, pay the babysitter and jump into bed. The next morning we watch Lisa cleaning blood from the shoulder of her coat as the police burst in and arrest her for murder. Next thing we know, it’s three years down the line, she’s serving a life sentence, all appeals are spent and, if he’s ever to live with his wife and son again, Julien is going to have to seize the day and free Lisa from jail himself…
A ridiculous prospect, perhaps, but Cavayé pushes it all through with a lean immediacy and by keeping at least one eye on the emotions of man, wife and child while fixing the other on the mechanics of tension. He reveals the truth about the murder early on, so firing our feelings for Julien further, and he lends logic to his protagonist’s behaviour. He also stays aware of the absurdity of a school teacher turning to extreme violence, not least with a telling, lingering shot of Julien staring at himself in the mirror, holding a gun, his face damaged after a beating. Cavayé’s film may not be the cleverest or most credible but it packs an effective punch.
Author: Dave Calhoun