Le Serpent

Con artist Plender (Clovis Cornillac) and the beautiful Sofia (Olga Kurylenko) make an effective team. She’s the bait for rich men fancying some extra-marital excitement, while he makes sure they pay handsomely when caught on film. The next target is photographer Mandel (Yvan Attal), who’s not above dallying with his models. Married to the daughter of a German tycoon, he’s lucrative prey, but this time there’s a more personal motive, since the two are old schoolmates, their contrasting fortunes traceable to a fateful night in their teens. Revenge has been a long time coming…

Adapted from a novel by English crime writer Ted Lewis (who provided the source for ‘Get Carter’), this stylishly appointed French thriller builds a twisty tale of cat-and-mouse from the conceit that Attal’s self-involved protagonist has long forgotten the festering grudge key to his nemesis’s festering psychosis… and thus accepts the latter’s help when a spot of bother at the studio threatens to jeopardise his divorce. It’s a nifty set-up, and although the rest of the picture’s put together with slick assurance, its best moves are all in the first half. The follow-on, as Attal learns to fight dirty and a charged physical confrontation looms, is exactly what you’d expect from any semi-efficient Hollywood suspenser. Not unwatchable, but a distinct let-down, since this crew surely had a more incisive movie in them. Still, Attal’s flawed resilience is pretty persuasive, and Cornillac does the switchback from intense creepiness to forced bonhomie with no little aplomb. Close, but not quite the full article.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday September 14 2007
Duration: 121 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Eric Barbier
Screenwriter: Eric Barbier
Cast: Yvan Attal
Clovis Cornillac
Pierre Richard
Simon Abkarian
Jean-Claude Bouillon
Veronika Varga
Olga Kurylenko
Minna Haapkyla
Gérald Laroche
Pierre Marzin
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AE

121 minutes of my life sacrificed to the God of bad film making.