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SELF-MADE HERO

SYNOPSIS:
In the final months of a war he hasn’t fought in, Albert (Kassovitz) gradually insinuates himself into a circle of the French resistance, relying on newspaper reports and fragments of comments by real soldiers, to fabricate a person whose persona takes on a momentum that doesn’t stop until he reaches dizzy heights - despite some cynics who doubt his veracity. Others give him honour, admiration, love, power, friendship…His rise from a dullard and nobody to a sought after adviser engulfs him in its glamour and power-thrust, changing his own personality. Can he ever become his own creation - or does it have to be discarded when he falls in love?

Louise Keller:Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, as they fit into place, so does the picture it portrays become clearer. It takes some time to realise the relevance of much of the beginning of the film, making the cinematic journey all the more rewarding. Mathieu Kassovitz’ performance as Dehousse is subtle and totally convincing. This fascinating tale, told in flashback with several intermittent musical interludes, is actually so bizarre, that it seeps under the skin. The way the music is presented, as part of an opera, heralds the "performance". Although a slow-starter, Dehousse is no slouch when it comes to learning. Imitation and deception become second nature to him, and his confidence balloons as he takes on false identities and ‘borrows’ phrases and mannerisms. Strangely enough, the one thing that he never changes is his name. The way Dehousse uses everyone he meets is an art form; and from an early age, he discovers how good he is at pretending. Never mix your own story with lies, he says. That way you get confused. It it’s all made up, it’s easier to remember. You just memorise it. There are some delightful humorous moments which brings a deep chuckle, as opposed to a belly laugh; none more so than the scene where the German colonel is teaching Dehousse how to waltz in the kitchen. Despite Dehousse’s many deceptions, the irony is that he actually does some good. An absorbing film for the thinking cinema lover.

Andrew L. Urban
Director Jacques Audiard illuminates the core of his film with a remark about Deniau’s book, referring to the historical context and how two lies meet. He says the film’s hero is an unimportant little man who lies for opportunistic reasons. On the other hand, a country (France) lies after five years of zealous collaboration (with the Nazis), trying to recover its identity and its virtue around the great lie, ‘We always resisted, you know!’ "It’s herein that lies the force of Deniau’s subject: relating a moment of the collective destiny through the story of a single man and making it into a comedy." Indeed: the revision of history is not limited to the French in the war. Albert’s mother is the first to lie to him, killing her husband at Verdun. In fact, the drunkard died at the corner café. But we sympathise with her motives. The film rests almost entirely on Kassovitz’s terrific performance, a subtle yet strong exploration of this ordinary yet extraordinary character. I found it sad, amusing, ironic and entertaining, with a certain cinematic flair.

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SELF MADE HERO (M)
Un Héros Très Discret
(France)

 

CAST: Mathieu Kassovitz, Anouk Grinberg, Sandrine Kiberlain, Albert Dupontel, Nadia Barentin, Bernard Bloch and Jean-Louise Trintignant

DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: Jacques Audiard

PRODUCER: Patrick Godeau

SCRIPT: Alain Le Henry & Jacques Audiard (based on the novel by Jean-Francois Deniau)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jean-Marc Fabre

EDITOR: Juliette Welfling

MUSIC: Alexandre Desplat

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 1, 1997

 







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