English (A) ***
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer
French movies have a characteristic charm. A light-hearted soundtrack, succinct dialogues and a camera angle that makes the most mundane activity look profound.
The Hollywood rendition of Tonino Benacquista’s novel attempts to fit into the French movie template.
Imitation is the best form of flattery, especially when it fails to imitate the perfection of the original creators.
However, director Luc Besson, with Martin Scorcese as executive producer, has succeeded in delivering a movie that makes death, action and bloodshed hilarious.
Appealingly, the cinematography and storyline maintain the distinctive Scorcese style.
At the onset, the movie is slow-paced, but progresses exponentially into an offering as riveting as The Departed.
A four-member family, with Robert De Niro (Giovanni alias Mr Blake) wearing the pants, moves to Normandy in France with changed names to cheat their imminent deaths.
With a three-man army watching over the Blake family’s house, all of the Blakes are seemingly safe, despite a highly influential don in prison offering a $20-million reward for Giovanni’s head.
The son, daughter and wife lead their lives in relative inconspicuousness and Giovanni begins to write his memoirs, which of course, can never be published.
Although generally merry, Giovanni has intermittent fits of rage and is ticked off by the unlikeliest issues. Needless to say, Robert De Niro embodies the character.
The subtly humourous depictions of torturing the “irritants” are thoroughly appealing.
There are a few faults with this movie. The initial drag in the movie is made up for with good direction and unpredictability.
This movie saves its peak of action to the very end. If you find instant gratification most enjoyable, this is a stay-at-home movie. Otherwise, a trip to the cinemas won’t hurt. After all, delayed gratification is the best kind of gratification.