ARMY OF CRIME, THE: DVD
Exiled Armenian poet Missak Manouchian (Simon Abkarian), living in occupied Paris with his wife, Melinee (Virginie Ledoyen), takes charge of an underground resistance unit determined to fight the Nazi occupiers. Though a pacifist, he feels compelled to take action with a group of mostly young hotheads from all parts of the world, barely out of their teens. The Germans rely on the French police to quell the insurgents at first, but after the murder of a high-ranking general they ramp up the pressure and Manouchian and his people are caught and tortured. Their case is put on the famous Red Poster distributed throughout France in which they are denounced as The Army of Crime.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Filled with a legion of characters and running many strands - too many of both - noted French filmmaker Robert Guédiguian makes a banquet out of the true story of the Red Poster episode in occupied France. The story is valid enough and strong enough, and would probably gain from some judicious paring down, which would also slim down the fat running time. These negatives are not deadly, but they make the film heavy for audiences even though the film is made with exemplary craftsmanship.
Teaming some of his regulars (Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darrousin) with a well chosen cast from a range of ethnic backgrounds, the director gets strong performances - not least from Simon Abkarian as the Armenian poet whose ethics do not support killing under any circumstances. Ironically enough, he gets to lead the resistance group formed to bring together the angry young partisans who have been acting recklessly.
In some respects, it's a routine 'French resistance fighters' movie - with one big difference: the fighters are a mix of Spanish, Italian, Armenian, Polish, Hungarian (as well as a few French) activists who take it upon themselves to kick Nazi butt. But the film's primary target is the French who collaborated with the Nazis; in one tragic scene, while three young men await the firing squad after being badly tortured, the German officer commends the French police inspector in charge of the Jewish round up. They did what Himmler, he says, "never dared ask your troops"...
For all the trauma and pain portrayed, it's difficult to really get emotionally involved with such a wide range of people and events. All the same, a powerful story.
Published August 26, 2010
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ARMY OF CRIME, THE: DVD (MA15+)
L'Armée du crime
CAST: Simon Abkarian, Virginie Ledoyen, Robinson Stevenin, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Lola Neymark, Yann Trégouët, Ariane Ascaride, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Ivan Franek, Adren Jolivet, Horatiu Malaele
PRODUCER: Dominique Barneaud
DIRECTOR: Robert Guédiguian
SCRIPT: Serge Le Péron, Gilles Taurand
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Pierre Milon
EDITOR: Bernard Sasia
MUSIC: Alexandre Desplat
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michele Vandestein
RUNNING TIME: 139 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
SPECIAL FEATURES: .
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: August 11, 2010