Le Bossu

Director: Philippe de Broca

Philippe de Broca’s sashbuckling saga of delayed revenge set between 1699 and 1716 provides plum roles for Daniel Auteuil and Fabrice Luchini, as, respectively, the versatile hero and delectably hissable villain. This seventh screen adaptation of Paul Feval’s 1857 serialized novel Le bossu brings to life literary action-adventure codes in a refreshing big-screen experience for the young at heart.
Handy with a sword and quick on the uptake Lagardere (Auteil), a former street urchin schooled in fencing and circus arts, goes form accepting money to kill the Duke of Nevers (Vincent Perez, in appealing form) to become his trusted friend and bodyguard. A dashing, multi-titled and impressing wealthy bachelor, Nevers had as heir his cousin, the dour and scheming Gonzague (Luchini). But word comes from afar that Nevers is a father from a tryst with Blanche de Caylus. He resolves to marry the mother of his child and raise the heir he assumes must be a son. Seeing an expedient, if messy, shortcut to wealth, greedy Gonzague enlists brigands to slaughter Nevers, Blanche and the child. Forty-five minutes in, after a valiant battle in which he is fatally stabbed in the back by Gonzague, the dying Nevers entrusts Lagardere with the infant and asks his friend to avenge him, however long it takes. Lagardere takes refuge with the child – who turns out to be a girl, Aurore – and his and surrogate daughter blend in with an itinerant troupe of Italian actors and puppeteers. Aurore (Marie Gillain) grows up incognito, believing Lagardere is her father. But when the performers hit Paris, some 16 years after Gonzague’s cowardly perfidy, Lagardere at last puts an ingenious revenge plot into motion…

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