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Xavier Lombard (Daniel Auteuil) is an ex-Paris cop who left the force under murky circumstances and is now scraping a living in London as a private detective. He is contacted by a rich Hampstead couple whose daughter Deborah (Nastassja Kinski) is married to Carlos (Ciaran Hinds), a former colleague of Lombard's. Deborah's sometime junkie and dilettante photographer brother has disappeared. Deborah is convinced he is simply shooting up the thousands pounds he borrowed from her a month previously, but her parents are scared. Lombard takes the plump envelope of cash slid across the table as deposit and sets off to investigate what he believes will be a routine job. He is wrong. Aided by too many Gauloises and the kind of nose that makes a sexy French movie star as well as a good detective, he follows a faint trail which leads him to bleakest estuarine Essex, a thriving child sex business and into extreme peril.

"From the opening moments -- made picturesque by Gitane smoke -- ennui and triste are apparent as the mainstays of Lombard's lonely London life. Highpoints of his existence (he lives in an improbably stylish studio apartment) include playing over-weight, over-age soccer, nurturing unappreciative tropical fish and ritually replacing a shrivelled potted primula on his windowsill with a fresh one; and bringing off the occasional double-double deal in one of his bread-and-butter divorce cases. He has no intention of getting caught up in the melodramatics of monied Hampstead, but when he stumbles upon a video tape depicting a gross white slob buggering a small, anguished Indian boy - Shiva (Hemal Pandya), he becomes a man obsessed. He enlists the reluctant aid of Nathalie (the sensationally gorgeous Marianne Denicourt) a Parisian prostitute now working the smart bars of Cool Britannia; and the missing man's girlfriend Emily (spiky, interesting Katrin Cartlidge) lays down her shotgun and suspicion and also decides to help. The story is straightforward no-nonsense narrative with some heartstopping twists and turns; the pace is taut (director Chris Menges), the photography atmospheric and absorbing (Barry Ackroyd). Kinski possibly regrets that she didn't get to play Nathalie as the role of Deborah is peripheral and unrewarding, but this is Auteuil's movie and he makes the most of it - which is a lot."
Diana Simmonds

"Daniel Auteuil's weary features are put to good use in his first English language role in which he looks the part but has trouble sounding like it. He's convincing as the stock, down-at-heel gumshoe who lives alone with only a few goldfish and bitter memories of a tragic past to keep him company. He's the kind of P.I. who smokes Citanes in the shower and gets by on nickel and dime divorce scams. All of which neatly sets up his opportunity for redemption during an extremely unpleasant investigation into the repellent practice of selling Third World children into sex slavery. The subject matter is nasty to say the least and director Chris Menges, a documentary-maker and D.O.P. of distinction, takes a commendable line in refusing to shy away from the details of this hideous 'business'. It's a compelling story but one which suffers from Auteuil's difficulties with the English language (some of his dialogue is simply unintelligible) and from shifting the drama from compact and claustrophobic London to a one-man crusade in Mexico where conventional, more overt violence diminishes the impact of its initial shadowy malevolence. Visually, Menges and cameraman Barry Ackroyd (Ken Loach's long-serving D.O.P) present an impressively grimy, naturalistic-looking London and on the edges there are solid contributions from Nastassja Kinski as the missing man's troubled sister and Katrin Cartlidge as his terrified girlfriend. Beneath the surface The Lost Son is a fairly straightforward private eye film without any great surprises in its dramatic arc. It's not an easy film to approach and the subject matter might simply be too off-putting for many but Menges' careful guidance makes it worthy of attention."
Richard Kuipers

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CAST: Daniel Auteuil, Nastassja Kinski, Katrin Cartlidge, Ciaran Hinds, Marianne Denicourt

DIRECTOR: Chris Menges

PRODUCER: Finola Dwyer

SCRIPT: Eric Le Clere, Margaret Le Clere, Mark Mills


EDITOR: Luc Barnier, Pamela Power

MUSIC: Goran Bregovic


RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 25, 1999

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