On the Run (Trilogy 1)

Director: Lucas Belvaux

France-Belgium| 2002. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 117 mins.

Take your first steps here into a fully-imagined cinematic landscape which becomes all-enveloping the more you see of it. Writer-director and leading man Lucas Belvaux couldn’t resist following the lives of all the characters in the screenplay he was working on, so he ended up with enough material for three films, all of it woven around the lives and loves of the same group of friends and colleagues in Grenoble. This would be impressive enough on its own terms, but the zinger is that the three interconnected films are all shaped in different genres, adding a pronounced piquancy to the way they cohere and collide as The Trilogy moves along.
On The Run announces that something special is happening here. It’s no mean compliment to say it’s like watching the best film Jean-Pierre Melville never made. Belvaux himself takes the role of the steely impassive protagonist Bruno, an unrepentant terrorist just escaped from prison yet determined to continue the bombing campaign he initiated fifteen years previously, despite the fact that the hard-left ideals which prompted such extreme action are now a historical anachronism. As he meticulously plans his next attack, he has to keep one step ahead of the police, and with his old cohorts either dead or unwilling to help, receives assistance from an unlikely source-Agns (Dominique Blanc), the morphine-addicted wife of Pascal (Gilbert Melki), the cop trying to bring him in. Compelling, suspenseful, masterfully directed stuff, it would be a great film by itself, but keep an eye out for those little details here and there left teasingly unresolved. Once hooked, you’ll be eager for more.
‘I started out to make a trilogy of films, but in the end I made four. The fourth film is the one each viewer constructs in their mind as they piece together the other three. And every viewer makes a different movie!’-Lucas Belvaux
In which order should you see them?
In theory, the structure of The Trilogy allows the films to be seen in any order, but some combinations work better than others. The tough crime drama On the Run makes a forceful introduction, and is probably the best way to start, although in France the frolicsome comedy. An Amazing Couple was actually released first. Either way, the intimate drug-themed drama After Life is clearly intended as the series finale and makes by far the most satisfying conclusion. All in all, The Trilogy is one of the year’s most remarkable achievements in world cinema.

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