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Le Lieu du crime

Director: Andre Techine

FRANCE| 1986. ENGLISH SUBTITLES. COLOUR. 95 MINUTES.


Le Lieu du crime begins with a reference to Great Expectations. Picking flowers in a cemetery, 13-year-old Thomas (Nicolas Giraudi) is surprised by escaped convict Martin (Wadeck Stanczck), who orders the boy to bring him some money. As Thomas returns home, we learn about his troubled life. His parents are divorced. He hates his father, loves his mother, is in trouble at school and has no friends. He is also about to celebrate his first communion. When Thomas returns to Martin with some money, the convict is not alone and kills one of his accomplices in order to save the boy. Later, Martin meets and begins an affair with Thomas’ mother, Lili (Catherine Deneuve), but the couple’s plans to run away together on the day of Thomas’ communion are thwarted.
As with Hôtel des Ameriques, Techine is still struggling here to unburden himself of the trappings of genre filmmaking. Both the title and the broader strokes of the scenario suggest a dark thriller. The film attempts to meet some of these expectations, but its real interests have more to do with exploring the tension between troubled family ties and dreams of escape to some kind of emotional and sexual freedom. The film’s generic elements and its wider thematic ambitions may sometimes be at odds, but they are perfectly in synch in the extraordinary scene in which the mother and the convict try to help each other escape while the boy races through the rain and the convict’s armed female accomplice tears around in a sports car.

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