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The Crack Magazine

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The Innocent

Director: Louis Garrel

Stars: Louis Garrel, Noémie Merlant, Anouk Grinberg, Roschdy Zem

Although this is his fourth directorial feature, actor Louis Garrel’s comedy drama feels like a debut picture with its freewheeling energy and stylistic promiscuity. As well as co-writing, Garrel also stars as Abel, a moody thirtysomething man mourning his wife who has recently passed away. His best friend is the spirited and cheeky Clémence (a luminous Merlant). When Abel learns that his rather flaky mother Sylvie (Grinberg) is about to marry Michel (Zem), a supposedly reformed prison inmate whose release is pending, he freaks out. Following Michel’s release Abel, with Clémence’s amused help, attempts to spy on his wily stepfather-to-be. The amusingly discursive script, richly-sketched characters and crime subplot are redolent of the Coen Brothers and Tarantino’s 90s work, while visually the picture looks to French New Wave at its most playful. Garrel proves very much an actors’ director and elicits wonderfully naturalistic and surprising turns from his cast. The Meta touches, in which the characters reveal their feelings during acting workshops, feel a little de trop and self-regarding, but this remains a winning and often very funny picture.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm