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L’Appartement

Director: Gilles Mimouni


Largely dismissed by French critics and only reluctantly taken on by a U.K. distributor, Gilles Mimouni’s highly pleasurable first feature was very well received by both critics and audiences in the English-speaking world. Vincent Cassel stars as a young executive who finds himself drawn into the labyrinth of his own past. A chance encounter in a cafe sends him hot on the trail of the girl he loved and lost, so he bids farewell to his fiancee, pretends to go off on a business trip to Tokyo, and goes in search of the elusive Lisa (Monica Bellucci). Flashbacks and reminiscences with his best pal reveal the story of a passionate near-thing, while Mimouni complicates the present with the enigmatic Alice (Romane Bohringer), whose part in the affair it would be churlish to divulge. It’s Hitchcock who echoes through this realm of obsession, voyeurism and a desire that shapes the senses. Vertigo doesn’t seem far away, nor is L’Appartement shamed by the company. Mimouni toys pleasurably with the tricks of celluloid illusion: masks, mirrors and colour-coding deliver a self-consciously heightened experience almost woozy with its own playfulness.
France-Italy-Spain, 1996. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 116 mins.

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