Based on a true story, In the Beginning, shown in competition at Cannes in 2009, is an engrossing and complex character study of a small-time conman caught in a precarious and quickly-escalating scheme. On-the-run Paul (François Cluzet) is mistaken for a representative of a company that had planned to build a motorway in a region of high unemployment before pulling out. Accorded respect and trust by the locals, he first sees it as an opportunity to extort cash in return for promises of contracts and work. However, as he becomes an increasingly important figure in the community and finds love with the local mayor (Emmanuelle Devos), habitual loner Paul sees the life he could have had, and begins construction. With a timely element of social critique, this is hugely satisfying filmmaking.