Tavernier surveys the Occupation years in this expansive fresco of the French film industry's fortunes during WWII. Were those film-makers who worked for German-controlled production companies to be judged Nazi collaborators, or were there more subtle strategies of struggle in the compromises of everyday survival? The film has ample time to explore various positions, but the focus is primarily on two real-life individuals: assistant director and family man Jean Devaivre (Gamblin), whose can-do movie-making expertise effectively masks his courageous Resistance exploits; and brilliant screenwriter Jean Aurenche (Podalydès), who salves his conscience by refusing various job offers, even if it leaves him in penury. Breathless pacing whisks us through moral dilemmas, insurgent scrapes and lovingly recreated studio floor atmosphere. All of which is never less than watchable, yet fails to engage on any deeper level because Tavernier already has his mind made up about everything. Unless you're familiar with names like Charles Spaak or Pierre Bost, you may find Laissez-Passer bustling, intriguing and slightly academic. Tavernier's investment in the material is obvious, but cramming in enough material for three pictures may not have been the best way to serve it.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Jean Cosmos, Bertrand Tavernier|