Note: Expect a fuller review of this when I’ve seen Part Two, however in the meantime here are my initial thoughts on the film.
Another two-part biopic, I wanted to see Mesrine mostly because of the good press it has been getting rather than an interest in the man himself (who I admit I hadn’t heard of before, and suspect few outside of France have). This did mean that my view was less coloured by how it presented the man beforehand than it was with Che.
A little uneven in tone (it seems to move from straight gangster thriller into more political territory later in the film) I suspect this will rely even more than Che on seeing the film as a whole rather than two parts. Stylistically though the film is wonderful, the split screen action setting the mood of paranoia in the opening sequence (which is obviously the end of the story) that permeates the latter half of the film. Before then we get a very good low-level gangster film that doesn’t gloss over the fact that the man was a violent thug who quite possibly had serious problems.
Vincent Cassell is very good in the title role, moving from easy charm to psychopath with ease. Even better, Gerard Depardieu reminds us that his early career was built around playing a successive number of scumbags rather than the romantic figure Hollywood always cast him as. The direction is curiously old fashioned, a throw back to seventies style thrillers such as The Parallex View and Three Days Of The Condor.
Hopefully Part Two will be on in these parts soon, at which time I should be able to comment more. However from what I’ve seen so far it’s looking promising.