‘The Big Picture’ – It is difficult for a person to disappear.

Lee Heidhues 1.14.2023

Checking out the foreign films available at my neighborhood Library I came upon this French film.

It is riveting and intriguing. It fascinates me to see how film makers and performers in other countries capture the human spirit and the way in which these people deal with life’s unexpected events and resultant crises.

Excerpted from The New York Times – 10.11.2012

Identity theft may be rampant nowadays, but “The Big Picture” explores the other side of the coin — the claustrophobic notion that it is increasingly difficult for a person to disappear.

On the deepest level, Paul Exben’s adopting the identity of a man who pursued the very dream Paul abandoned has paradoxical ramifications. Even after he becomes what he might have been, he can’t follow through.

The adage “It’s never too late to be who you might have been,” ascribed to George Eliot, is given a cruel twist in the terrific French thriller “The Big Picture.”

This loose adaptation of Douglas Kennedy’s 1997 novel might be described as “The Talented Mr. Ripley” for the age of Google. Its story of Paul Exben, a successful Parisian lawyer who assumes the identity of a man he accidentally kills, belongs to a select circle of twisty top-notch Gallic suspense movies that include Lucas Belvaux’s “Rapt” and Guillaume Canet’s “Tell No One.”

If some of the plot details defy credibility, Romain Duris’s electrifying performance makes you overlook any inconsistencies, as his likable character becomes a man on the run barely able to stifle his panic.

Mr. Duris, 38, has been a major French star since “The Beat That My Heart Skipped,” Jacques Audiard’s 2005 French adaptation of James Toback’s “Fingers.” In “The Big Picture” he is as compelling, if not more so.

Mr. Duris’s Paul has the springy agility of the young Mick Jagger and the same crinkly mischievous grin that conveys a Mephistophelean charm; the resemblance is so striking that in many shots he suggests a hairy-chested fraternal twin of that Rolling Stone.

Unlike “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and Antonioni’s “Passenger,” “The Big Picture,” directed by Eric Lartigau, doesn’t bear down heavily on its themes of exchanged identities and second chances. Paul is not a sociopath like Tom Ripley, and the movie does not convey the same diabolical Hitchcockian sense of being manipulated by a slightly sadistic master puppeteer. As the story sprawls across the screen, it darts from one incident to the next as though it were inventing itself as it goes along.