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The Crimson Rivers [XDBX Film Club 04]

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The Crimson Rivers

The Crimson Rivers

About

  • Released


  • Rating


    6.9
  • Genre


    • Crime
    • Mystery
    • Thriller

Overview

Two French policemen, one investigating a grisly murder at a remote mountain college, the other working on the desecration of a young girl's grave by skinheads, are brought together by the clues from their respective cases. Soon after they start working together, more murders are committed, and the pair begin to discover just what dark secrets are behind the killings.


Trailer

Credits

  • Jean Reno
    Jean Reno
    Pierre Niemans
  • Vincent Cassel
    Vincent Cassel
    Max Kerkerian
  • Nadia Farès
    Nadia Farès
    Fanny Ferreira
  • Dominique Sanda
    Dominique Sanda
    Sister Andrée
  • Karim Belkhadra
    Karim Belkhadra
    Captain Dahmane
  • Jean-Pierre Cassel
    Jean-Pierre Cassel
    Dr. Bernard Chernezé
This page uses the themoviedb.org API.
LimeGreenLegend

On the 22nd of March 1895, at the "Society for the Development of the National Industry" in Paris, 200 people witnessed the very first projected motion pictures in history.  This makes France the most important country in film history.  Thanks to pioneers like The Lumiere Brothers, Georges Melies, and The Pathe Brothers we are able to see things on the big screen that we could never possibly dream of.  

France didn't just invent cinema, they also gave us cinemas, and, with the publication of Cahiers du Cinema in 1951, gave us the birth of modern film theory and criticism.  The writers at this magazine knew their stuff.  Two of them went on to lead the French new wave in the 60s, arguably the most influential period in film history, Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut.  

So it's only right that we celebrate this great nation by watching the fruit of its loins.  The winning film was selected by @Spinnaker1981, The Crimson Rivers, or, Les Rivieres Pourpres.

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The Crimson Rivers is a psychological thriller starring Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel, directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, and adapted from from the novel of the same name by the author, Jean-Christophe Grange.  I've not seen this film, so I can't really say much else, but I am looking forward to watching it being a fan of both the leads.

Vive la France

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Con

I'm not reading anything about this one. In fact, I was dreading the chance of seeing a spoiler image when I was looking for the pic for the home page promo. Pretty sure I will be watching this one within a few days. 

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LimeGreenLegend

Same, I didn’t even read the synopsis on Wikipedia.  I also want to watch this one soon, it’s the first film club film I’ve not seen and I’m pretty pumped to watch it.

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Fido_le_muet

Saw it many many many years ago but don't remember anything about this film except that there's Jean Reno in it.

I love Jean Reno. 

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Spinnaker1981

I know I loved this movie when I saw it (when it came out). I can’t honestly remember why I loved it though.... really want to see it again and see what you guys think about it! 

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Spinnaker1981
15 hours ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

Same, I didn’t even read the synopsis on Wikipedia.  I also want to watch this one soon, it’s the first film club film I’ve not seen and I’m pretty pumped to watch it.

Good, I honestly chose french film category to see if I could catch you guys in a movie that you guys hadn’t seen yet. This is perfect because it ticks all the boxes. 

Also this is the spirit of a movie club. And, even if the movie wouldn’t be something we would pick out of a shelve, it is a perfect setup to learn to appreciate what we don’t know yet. 

 

I might bot like a movie here, but I am enjoying this ride, thats for sure! 

This club was a very good ideia, thank you all! 

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djw180
Posted (edited)

I have now watched this. As it seems no one else has yet I won't say too much because as a murder / thriller it obviously has the potential for major spoilers.

3/5 from me.

It's OK, interesting enough film, but not a great. It starts off well. Although quite gory, the opening credits focussing on the body are good. Jean Reno is very good in the lead role and Vincent Cassel is good as well. But the basic story just isn't that well told for me and is a bit confusing in places. I'll return to my comments when others have seen it but there are a couple of things about what we eventually find out went on that don't make sense to me and still have me confused. It doesn't seem to be one of those films that is supposed to leave you confused and not knowing the full story; I just think that either the script wasn't that well written or it's been badly edited and too much has been cut out. There is also what seems a totally out of place kung-fu (or some other martial art) sequence in the middle. I get why there is a fight between some characters at this point and the people fighting all know martial arts, but it's almost as if the film switches genre for a few minutes.

Edited by djw180
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LimeGreenLegend

Just finished this today, will do a full write up later tonight/tomorrow, but I mostly agree with @djw180, at some points I feel like I understand the plot, but then I think about it too much and get confused.

Mostly enjoyable though.


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djw180
11 minutes ago, LimeGreenLegend said:

Just finished this today, will do a full write up later tonight/tomorrow, but I mostly agree with @djw180, at some points I feel like I understand the plot, but then I think about it too much and get confused.

Mostly enjoyable though.

Since writing my comments here I have looked through some of the reviews on IMDB, and many of those seem as confused as me. One I recall saying that a lot was cut out of the book it's based on and if you do read the book then that makes more sense.

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LimeGreenLegend

Right, got my notes all ready, let's go.

jean reno GIF by El Hormiguero

I like the opening credits with the insects crawling all over the body, which is shot like a landscape with giant insects roaming over it.  The shots of the body sometimes look like mountain ranges, like the Alps, where this is set.  I like the creepy toybox music with the child singing "la la la", unsettling with the imagery that is being paired with it.  The camera starts to distort and the body twists and deforms, like how they have been mutilated.  These credits reminded me of the tv show "Hannibal" and how they shoot all of their gory crime scenes.  

There's a zoom in to the closed eyes of the corpse which then cuts to Pierre Niemans' (Jean Reno) eyes snapping open as he's driving through a tunnel.  The cuts between the tunnel lights and his eyes blinking open give us a real sense of time and distance, he's travelled a long way to get to where he's going.  There's an overhead shot of his car driving through the forest which reminded me of the opening shots of "The Shining".  Just from this opening I expected this to be more of a horror film in the "Silence of the Lambs" vein than it turned out to be.  

He arrives and meets up with the local police captain, Dahmane (Karim Belkhadra).  Dahmane says "I thought they were sending a unit", Niemans replies "I am the unit".  This guy is confident in his abilities, and the confidence in his voice and body language makes us believe him.  He seems relaxed despite the frenzied activity around him.  Dahmane then tells him "we're not used to this sort of thing", so we can expect something extreme since the local police are way out of their depth.

I wrote in my notes "gorgeous location" a lot watching this film, so I'll just cover all of that now.  The French Alps and all of the locations nestled at the base of them look beautiful.  This is a thoroughly good looking film all around, the cinematographer really earned their paycheck on this one.  There is a long take of a sign on the college wall that read "happy is he who penetrates the hidden causes of things".  A bit on the nose, but it fits with the detective coming to investigate a murder.  The college here bought to mind the Overlook hotel, again from "The Shining", making it subconsciously ominous.  At the end of this scene of Niemans checking out the college we learn that he doesn't know who Bill Gates is.  This is a guy who only cares about things he needs to know, everything else is useless to him.

We then head to the morgue for the autopsy.  The mortician says that he was in Niemans' criminology class back in 1987, reinforcing his reputation as an expert, and someone who's been an expert for a long time.  When the corpse is revealed all of the local cops turn away, Niemans calmly looks at the body taking a deep breath, like he's breathing in all of the information he can see.  I like Captain Dahmane's response to seeing the mutilated body, "what the fuck is this shit"?  Not only a funny line that really should be in more films like this, it also shows us how out of depth these guys are, and why they had to call in Niemans.  The scene ends with Niemans looking at the body as the sound around him fades out, the case has started and he is sharpening his focus.

Niemans then heads over to the doctor's office.  There are some great tracking shots, following him from behind, making us feel like we're there on the case with him.  Entering the office he is confronted by a guide dog and shits himself.  I immediately thought that this fear was going to play a part in the film later on, why else mention it?  It could also been seen as part of the cliche that great detectives have a quirk, scared of dogs, ocd, heroin addiction.  Doctor Cherneze tells Niemans "dogs are not to fear, just their masters".  This could be seen as a hint that the killer is working for some, more powerful, person.  We then find out that the college is a very closed community, the teachers have been marrying each other for years, the bloodlines are weak.  This put me in mind of other closed community horror films like "The Wicker Man" and "The Village", again making me expect more horror than I got.  

Cut to a small town, graffiti on the walls, group of kids hanging around up to no good, contrasts with the gorgeous locations we've been in so far.  One of the kids is talking about a trip to Paris and says "Paris is full of psychos", ironic considering what's going on around here lately.  We meet Max Kerkerian (Vincent Cassel), or as I called him in my notes "cool cop".  Sat in the cop car smoking a joint, passing it around to the two local cops in the front who are impressed with him like a couple of teenagers.  This is in stark contrast to what we've seen of the quiet, professional Niemans.  Investigating the desecration of a mausoleum, they find it sprayed with swastikas, very incendiary imagery.  Speaking to the groundsman, he says "her mother was crazy.  She said the devil killed her kid" adding a supernatural threat to the events.  Max then learns of a break in at a local school and asks of the principal "what's she missing"? and we get a great smash cut to Max's pov speaking to the principal as she replies "nothing's missing, that's what's strange".  I thought this was a brilliant scene transition.  

The start of the scene in the school is shot all in one take and the camera movement is incredible, I actually rewound it four or five times to watch it again.  As Max and the principal are walking through the hallway the camera starts as a pov shot of Max looking at the principal, then turns around to get a close up of Max, then it falls behind the two and tracks them for a while, before staying still at the end of the hallway, letting them walk away from us as a class full of kids spill out of a doorway behind them.  Beautiful stuff, like Spielberg in his prime.  This is a really well directed movie.  The camera movement is interesting without becoming overbearing, the editing makes sense and is well paced, and the framing of the shots are really well thought out.  A six out of ten film like this (spoiler for my final score) really doesn't deserve directing this good, but it's so good that it knocks it up to a seven out of ten.

Max thinks there is nothing to find in the school, but as he leaves he stops and thinks.  As he does so the camera tracks all around him, and this circular movement made me think of the cogs in his mind turning, the camera coming to a stop on a close up of his face as the thought comes to him.  He then discovers that the person who broke in stole the school records and pictures of the dead girl, Judith, whose mausoleum was the one that was desecrated.  

Investigating the cause of her death, Max goes to speak to a highway worker, as she was run over by a truck.  The highway worker goes to use a computer to check the records and Max asks him "you can use that"? To which he gruffly replies "what do you think"?  I laughed at this, if only because it has aged a bit.  In the year 2000 it was weird for anyone over 50 to be using a computer unless they were a business professional.  These days, everyone uses computers.  He eventually finds the right record, and we see a very gory crime scene picture where the kid looks like they had been turned to jam.  Max also gets an address for her mother.

Back with Niemans at the college library we get another tracking shot following him as he walks through it.  This time however, it doesn't feel like we're on the case with him, more like we're watching him from a distance.  This is because of what's going on around him.  All of the students are watching him furtively, we can hear them whispering but can't hear what they're saying.  This gives a great sense of paranoia as Niemans delves further into the case and doesn't know who to trust.  The shots in the library are all very symmetrical, matching the order and neatness you would expect from a library.  

He talks to the dean of the college about his suspicions and the dean says "to accuse one of us is to accuse all of us" suggesting a larger conspiracy.  We then see that his son is his assistant, echoing what the doctor said earlier about the college, the children of the teachers grow up to work at the college, the dean also says that "traditions are a way of life here" indicating that they will resist the outside influence of Niemans.  

We then find Niemans breaking into Callois' apartment, the victim.  Even though he has been portrayed as a straight-laced professional up to now, this shows that he is willing to bend the rules to find out what he needs to know.  Here he discovers photographs of athletes and information on genetics.  He then returns to the college where he meets Fanny Ferreira (Nadia Fares) a glaciology expert.  While talking to Fanny, who seems to not like the college, he remarks "you went to and work for the school, you're part of the clan".  This seems like he suspects her, but events later in the film will show that this is not the case.

Meanwhile, Max has tracked down Judith's mother, who is now in seclusion in a convent.  The scenery here, and the framing of the shots, are beautiful.  An isolated convent in a heavy snowfall.  Judith's mother has taken a "vow of shadows", which we're told means that she can't see anyone.  But Max then goes right into her room and starts talking to her.  I didn't really get the point of the vow if you can just go in and it doesn't seem to matter.  The lighting and heavy shadows in her room look fantastic.  She tells Max that demons killed Judith, and have now been sent to erase all traces of her, to protect a secret.  Not only does this add to the supernatual element of the film, and again hints at a greater conspiracy.  

The next scene felt kind of out of place.  Fanny is flying Niemans in a helicopter over some glaciers.  While doing so she gives a lesson in glaciers and it feels forced.  It looks great though, and a helicopter flying in the snow always reminds me of "The Thing", which is always a good thing.  After landing they then trek through the snow.  These long shots make them look tiny on the landscape, and by having no music, only their laboured breathing, you get a real sense of isolation.  They come to a huge ravine and there is a great shot that tips over the edge following them as they abseil down it.  At the bottom they find tunnels, which feel cramped and claustrophobic after the huge empty expanse they were just in.  These tunnels conveniently lead to the second murder victim.  I found this a bit far fetched, but later revelations about the killer makes it make sense.

Back with Max, and he is investigating the desecration of the mausoleum, specifically the swastikas, which leads him to the hangout of some skinheads.  After a few heated words, Max pulls out his gun and badge, puts them down saying "I'm not a cop now" and what happens next is a very out of place kung-fu sequence.  It doesn't match the rest of the film tonally, the music for the scene is crap, and there are ridiculous, over the top sound effects for every punch and kick.  As Max finishes kicking the last guy unconscious, a video game cabinet proclaims "game over", just to put the final stupid cherry on top of this stupid scene.  Plotwise, Max finds out that they had nothing to do with it, and gets a description of the car of the person who desecrated the mausoleum.

He puts out a call to find the car, and discovers one in Guernon, the college town.  Now we're starting to connect the two cases.  His car then fails to start, he gets frustrated, and the scene ends with him eyeing a nearby car as if he's going to steal it.  The next scene, Max turns up in the stolen car.  This character is a bit too much, smoking weed on duty, engaging in martial arts dick measuring contests and stealing cars.  That's a written warning at the very least.  He starts to break in to the apartment belonging to the car owner he was tracking down, but is interrupted by Niemans.

Max seems starstruck with the legendary cop, commenting "great technique" when Niemans kicks the door down.  In the apartment, which belonged to the second murder victim, hence Niemans presence here, Max finds a picture of Judith.  The two of them then go to the autopsy of the second victim.  On the way Niemans tries to light a cigarette, but his lighter won't work, he hasn't got the spark yet.  

The mortician discovers that the corpses' eyes have been replaced by glass eyes.  Niemans is the only one not to look away as they are removed, this isn't the first time he's seen something like this, that's why he gets called to cases like this.  Max tries to convince Niemans to work together.  He says to him "I can teach you too" reinforcing that he is subordinate to Niemans.  Niemans replies "I work alone", Max replies "that makes two of us", so if they don't get on I won't be surprised.

The glass eyes pointed toward the doctor, so they head to his office only to find him crucified, blood streaming from his eyes.  The killer is found to still be there, gets the jump on Niemans and Max and we get a pretty well done foot chase.  There's a fantastic shot tracking vertically down the centre of a spiral staircase as it spirals with the people running down them.  Niemans falls at the foot of the stairs and the killer gets his gun, but just empties it in the wall around him.  This shows that they are only killing certain people, they don't want to hurt anyone else.  Max carries up the chase out in the rain.  There are some great film noir style shots here, especially one of their shadows growing bigger and bigger on a wall, put me in mind of the classic noir thriller "The Third Man".

The chase ends up on the college's running track where the killer easily outruns Max.  Again, there is no music here, just the rain, their breathing and their feet pounding the track.  This adds to the tension where some music would maybe take it away.  The shots of the running killer also mirror the photographs of athlete's found in the apartment of the first victim.

Meeting back up with the rest of the police, they receive the confusing news that the fingerprints on the gun were Judith's, the dead girl.  Niemans and Max start to weave their separate threads together, Niemans says "it all leads to the university".  Outside, Niemans runs into Fanny and he offers her a lift home.  We get a close up of Fanny as the music becomes ominous and we slip into slow motion.  Suspicion is now off the charts for her, but Niemans doesn't see anything.

We're now with Max who is going to open Judith's coffin.  There's a great shot inside the mausoleum of a crucifix being illuminated by the lightning.  The grave is empty save for a picture of Judith.  We zoom into the picture, which then flash cuts to a close up of Fanny.  Fanny is Judith, somehow.  At this point I was slightly confused, but there is more to be revealed.  

Fanny and Niemans are now in her house, after he drove her home.  Sat inside, he again tries to light a cigarette, but his lighter still won't spark.  He still hasn't figured it out yet.  He even says to her "you're the perfect suspect", but he doesn't believe she could hurt anyone.  He then returns to the college library where he confronts the dean and learns the big plan.  The college is a breeding ground for prefect fascists, nazis.  The swastikas earlier in the film hinted toward this, but they were played off as a distraction.  

The college isolated itself, teachers marrying each other, their children growing up to work at the college and marry other teachers and so on.   But after so long doing this their bloodlines became weak, as noted by the doctor earlier, so they started swapping healthy children from the nearby town with their sick children when they came to the university hospital for treatment.  Niemans attacks the dean before seeing Judith's picture, realising that she is Fanny.

Niemans and Max are now driving, talking things through, putting it all together.  Niemans says "it's not a college, it's a breeding ground".  They are then rammed from behind by a bigger car, and we get a pretty good night-time car chase.  The brake lights of Niemans' car bathes the chasing car in a sinister red light, highlighting how much of a threat it is.  They end up on a bridge, ploughing through a "danger" sign, before Niemans is able to kill the driver.  It was the dean's son.  Max asks Niemans "you think she's innocent"? questioning his judgement, maybe he's lost his edge after all these years.

They go to Fanny's house and Max kicks down the door "a la Niemans" as he says.  They find her murder basement and they realise that it was her all along.  That is why it wasn't so far fetched that they found the second victim under the glacier, she put him there, and she led Niemans there.  

They find that she's heading up the mountain so they go to chase her.  At the cable car station the local police want to send everyone up, but Niemans and Max want to go alone, which is ridiculous.  They then all pull guns on each other like it's the end of "Reservoir Dogs".  I don't know much about the gendarme but I don't think they're that trigger happy.  Because this is a film they get their way and go up on their own.  

At the top of the mountain they find Fanny preparing to set off an avalanche to bury the school, then all of a sudden her twin appears!  Huge twist!  I actually didn't see this coming.  So what I can figure out is that Judith's mother bought her to the college hospital where she was swapped for one of the sick children of the teachers.  The didn't know she was a twin.  When they grew up and didn't look like each other, Judith's mother knew they had been swapped.  They threw the sick child in front of a truck to kill her, and plant a finger she had cut off of the twin to identify the body as Judith.  They then made contact with the sister that had been at the college this whole time and made this plan to destroy the place and kill everyone involved with the swap.  "Mommy planned everything".  

There's then a Mexican standoff, Fanny shoots Judith, Max shoots Fanny, and this sets off an avalanche.  There's some pretty bad cgi during this scene, but it was pretty tense and well done up until that point.  Of course, there's always time for another cliche, the bad guy coming back from the dead.  Judith springs up for one last attack, but is quickly put back down.  

We fade to black.  Then a white spot of light.  They're being dug out.  The first thing Niemans sees, the thing that has bought his rescue, is a dog.  I like that his fear of dogs was mostly for this jokey payoff, rather than some big third act event.  After being dug out, Niemans and Max are okay, and Fanny is being lifted to a hospital.  Max asks Niemans "what have you got against dogs"? he replies "it was a long time ago".  I like how the relationship between the two leads never become aggressive or combative, they just stick together to finish the case.  As they sit and chat the camera pulls away into the sky, reminding me of the last shot of "Die Hard".

Overall, this was an okay film.  The plot was basic at points, and slightly confused at other points.  The acting was good, Reno and Cassel both solid leads, though Cassel's character was a bit over the top at points.  What really stands out for me though is the cinematography and the direction, there are loads of gorgeous shots of beautiful scenery in this film, and some excellent camera movement and shot composition.

Overall I'd give this a generous 7/10, mainly for the direction, though it isn't a film I'll watch again any time soon.

 

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djw180
Posted (edited)

I think it's safe to give my additional comments now.

 

Don't read if you haven't seen it yet and don't want to spoil the story.


 

These are my queries I had just after watching it. Some I have a better idea about now, but still not everything is clear. Maybe some of these points are supposed to be clear but they were not to me. I was paying attention when I watched it. It wasn't as if I was half asleep or anything. So I think either these were not explained at all or not explained in a clear way.

 

  • I mentioned this already, but WTF is the kung fu fight all about!?! I get that it's fight and they all know kung fu, but why do it in the style of some crappy 90s kung fu Nintendo game?
    • it kind of reminds me of when films used to have a musical interlude , only in this case it's a kung-fu interulde
  • Why were the 2nd and 3rd victims killed? What was their connection to the university eugenics program?
    • What the 2nd was doing with dogs was the same in principle as what the eugenicists where doing with children, but that seems a bit of a tenuous reason. There must be more to it. I assume the 3rd was involved in the eugenics because he saw first hand what in-breeding had done, but it wasn't clear to me that he definitely was or wasn't involved.
  • Who desecrated Fanny / Judith's tomb? Victim 2 or Fanny/Judith and /or her twin?
    • If it was victim 2 then why? I don't see any reason for him to have done that.
    • It seems to make slightly more sense that Fanny/Judith and twin did it because it somehow added to the story they were trying to reveal to the world, and then they just tried to make it look like victim 2 did it to draw police attention.
  • Where did Fanny/Judith's twin come from and who was their real mother?
    • Were they children of someone at the university and one was switched for Andree's daughter, then switched back after the eugenicists staged the road accident?
    • Or were they both Andree's daughters and one was switched after the road accident and Andree just does not mention another daughter for unknown reasons?
  • How the hell did Max get away with stealing a car?
    • A cop commandeering a vehicle in an emergency is one thing, but he just stole this one. Surely the owner would have reported it missing and someone found it later.

 

These spoil what should have been a very good film for me. The acting and cinematography are great, the plot is rubbish.

Edited by djw180
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LimeGreenLegend

Agree with you about the fight scene, totally out of place.

The third victim, the doctor, was in on the child-swapping thing, so that's why he was killed.  I think the second victim was the one who actually did the swap with Fanny and Judith.  The first victim was the one in charge of the breeding programme that matched up Fanny with the dean's son.  I think.  

The second victim desecrated the tomb, the skinheads identified his car, which led Max to his apartment, where he first meets Niemans.  They said it was to distract the cops, making them think it was skinheads.  Agree that it would make more sense for the twins to do the swastika thing, like you said, to expose what they're doing.

I thought that Fanny and Judith were both the crazy nun's children, and Fanny was swapped when she was bought to the hospital as a child.  The girl who got run over was the child of the teachers that was swapped with her.  I assumed her mother killed her after finding out she's not her real daughter.

Agree again with the car stealing, couldn't he just call for another car?  

 

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Fido_le_muet

Just watched it. Kinda liked it, read DJ's review and I mostly agree. Haven't read the huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge review from Lime yet. Will do tomorrow and write my own. 

But now that you mention it, I agree that the fight scene was out of place lol.

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Fido_le_muet

Review time ! 

Overall, I enjoyed this movie. Like I said earlier, I saw it when it was released but watching it yesterday, I didn't remember anything at all about it ! Bad sign ? I'd say yes. It's an enjoyable, interesting movie but also a forgetable one.

What I loved the most was the atmosphere. The French Alps are gorgeous and like Lime said, it gives a sense of isolation. That's mirrored in the plot by the university and by the convent scene to a lesser extent. Every single shot of the setting is beautiful. The beginning when Niemans arrives on the murder scene and the camera pans way up when the cop tells him the body is hung up on the cliff. The snow capped mountains, the huge snow filled landscape when Niemans and Fanny are walking to the second victim, the big stone houses next to beautiful streams. The glacier shots were fantastic, as well as the frozen cave where they find the second body. Even the university with the mountains in the background. They make that location very creepy. The library shots as well are beautiful and gave me a sense of insecurity, like Niemans couldn't trust nobody and nothing. Almost like the library was a character that was gonna try to slow Niemans investigation. 

Overall, the lighting is very well made in the movie. The game of light and shadow in the convent. The lit up crucifix in the mausoleum. The light in the ice cave. The lights during the nighttime car chase. The light appearing when they're trapped under the avalanche at the end. 

I didn't pay attention to the cinematography but I see that Lime did. Only thing I noticed is at the beginning, when Niemans arrives at the university, there is a weird camera effect of zooming/dezooming (I don't know the technical term). It was unnecessary. What was the point of that ? This kind of effect is usually used to highlight something or someone. There was nothing to highlight here. The same effect is used again at the end but rightfully so this time, during the final standoff. Other than that, didn't notice the one-take shots. I was slightly disturbed during the movie with my baby girl having a cold and trouble sleeping. 

I liked the plot and the character of Niemans. It felt a bit rushed at the end and I do agree that it was confusing at times. Had to read the plot on Wikipedia to understand why the victims were killed and who they were to Fanny/Judith, especally for the second victim. I didn't understand why the ophtalmologist was killed at first but then I remembered he was working for the university before. Same with Judith/Fanny. I still don't know which of the two is the killer or if they both are. Same with the foot chase at the ophtalmologist's apartment. Is it Fanny or Judith being chased ? I think it's Fanny cause she spares Niemans but not sure. The movie could have been a bit longer to take the time to explain things a bit. 

Cassel's character is a bit over the top yeah but his characters often are (Ocean's 12). And that fight scene was so stupid! Very out of place and absolutely off-tone with the rest of the movie. It's like Kassovitz had always wanted to shoot a kung-fu scene in his movies but never got the chance so he shot one here. No no no, just have Kerkerian lose his temper and hit the skinhead with the cross of his gun and threaten to kill him and voila. Works just as well and you save 10 minutes to explain the plot. 

I have to mention the treatment reserved to the police forces in this movie. They drive crappy cars that definitely weren't part of the police car fleet at the time. That old Peugeot 305 break was an antique ! (the Gendarmerie 4x4 towards the end were perfect on the other hand). Also the cops are showed as extremely dumb and stupid people. The two that accompany Kerkerian in the first act are so so badly portrayed it hurts. They look like children and when they immediately go for a drink when Kerkerian goes to the skinheads warehouse... Ugh !!! Very bad image of the french police in this movie. You guys maybe don't know that but here in France, Kassovitz is well known for disliking the police. He's been arrested several times for outrage and is very vocal about his anti-police opinion in his blog, social media and the press. He definitely wanted to share his toughts about that in this movie ! 

Just noticed something by reading the plot on Wikipedia. At the beginning, when Niemans is interrogating the ophtalmologist, he tells him that the killer is giving the detective clues by removing the hands and eyes, which are unique to every individuals. I didn't see it during the movie but that's definitely a hint about Fanny's twin Judith. About the fact that she's missing a finger and that she was hidden. Removing hands and eyes make the victim lose their identity, just like her disappearing, vanishing after her "death" all these years ago. 

That's it for me. I give this movie a good 6/10 because it's enjoyable, great atmosphere and cinematography but a somewhat weak and confusing plot make it forgetable. 

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Posted (edited)

The Crimson Rivers (2000)

     As always let's start with the positives, I felt the strength of this film and what kept me always looking forward to were the camera placements and the amazing aerial shots that were some of the best I have ever seen, even in mountain climbing documentaries. The cinematography was crisp and that really helped in that opening sequence when we see the wounds, not just the superficiality of them but how profound some of the stab and slash wounds were and then of course the insects feasting on the body. It set the mood and I was ready to dig the fuck in and get psychologically boned like I did watching "The Autopsy of Jane Doe"...but sadly to me, the film drops the ball in all those crucial elements. Perhaps it is the language barrier but I usually never have a problem deciphering what I have watched even in a foreign language and yes, I had some subtitle issues that caused me to re-watch the last two acts more than once because when the climax and reveal arrive I didn't feel any sense of satisfaction. The twist was one I have not only seen 1M times, but seen it done better and certainly more compelling. Anyways I do want to talk about some of my favorite things like the gore and practical effects on the bodies, I thought those were done real well and carried a sense of dread that filled the screen. Another thing that helped set the ambiance was the incredible job they did with the lighting, I mean, those shots inside the library were spooky as it made you feel like there were so many secrets and darkness under the surface of this tight knit and self-guarded community and is why I wish the story had more to do with say child abuse or illegal medical procedures on children, an underground twisted pediatric circle of sorts...and if they did have this in the film, I must have missed it but im sure I was paying attention to those subtitles. Sadly, there are no Youtubers out there that reviewed this film and i didn't find any explanation videos either and I feel this film really needs one because this is how I understood of the story....

College student body is found and top cop takes the case. On the other side of town another top cop is investigating a crime whose suspect will be tied to the suspect the top cop is looking at from the murder of the college student. There seems to be a serial killer on the loose by the pattern of violence and brutality he is leaving on his victims, except this will perplex the cops because as the body count grows, the brutality seems to be being pulled back and there are less wounds on future bodies but the similarities remain such as  the hands being removed. Somehow the cops get clues from the bodies? I don't even know where they get the clues that lead them to learn about eugenics, inbreeding, neo-nazis, acid rain, etc...anyways this leads to the killer and the overdone twist. That entire sequence while well intentioned, it  just fell flat partly because it takes place in daylight. Even in The Predator turd the director changed the climax of his turd because he accidentally shot it during the day and realized it didnt look scary and im pretty sure it also had to do with the shitty CGI too----------anyways, back to TCR, so then an avalanche is set off and we assume the killer is dead, we get no confirmation of this, and we then see our heroes being rescued. A nighttime avalanche would have been terrifying come to think of it. 

I just wish the stylish lighting and direction would have been applied to a better written story. I really appreciated the direction and cinematography but I kept waiting for that jaw dropping moment of revelation whether about the killer or the crimes themselves. When it comes to the Editing, I share what DJ said in his review about it being jarring and some cuts seem so out of place at times and make things a bit confusing.  The only thing consistent were the two main leads, Reno and Cassel are their usual screen chewing selves and they did make me chuckle during their bickering.  Reno and Cassel working together to solve a crime in an amazing location were the best parts of the film and everything else kind of flopped or was just there. I didn't feel the mystery was compelling enough for me to care about the deaths or the killer. Another thing that I felt was so out of place was the fighting-style of Cassel in that scene where he fights the skinheads, I mean, the film turns into a Jackie Chan picture in seconds and was impressed that everyone in that region had taken advanced kung-fu classes.  I think I finally found personal meaning for this gif:

excuse me wow GIF by Mashable

as it was my exact reaction when they all start fighting with such expertise. But it was a fun scene so I'm not gonna bash it too much. I did enjoy trying to guess who the killer was but was confused by the filmmakers transitions from scene to scene and felt the script did not help in telling a cohesive story creating a sense that I was missing important exposition and clues about the killer. 

Favorite scene: All the scenes with the medical examiner and bonus scene: the foot-chase sequence (even if the killer isnt covered in blood which they should be considering what is implied they have done to the Optometrist).

Final verdict...3/5...The images and locations really kept me entertained in between my bouts of confusion or just not getting the information I needed to follow the clues. I felt everyone was a suspect but I couldnt tell you why as the film didnt give me any misdirections...I think the only reason they visit the Optometrist is because he could be suspect since he deals with things of the eye and would know how to remove them cleanly. I expected more of that kind of clue element and maybe we do get it and its all lost in translation.  I would love to meet someone that really loved this so they can explain the things that went over my head as I really enjoyed the visual direction of this revenge story.

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On 5/24/2019 at 10:12 AM, LimeGreenLegend said:

I like the opening credits with the insects crawling all over the body, which is shot like a landscape with giant insects roaming over it.  The shots of the body sometimes look like mountain ranges, like the Alps, where this is set.  I like the creepy toybox music with the child singing "la la la", unsettling with the imagery that is being paired with it.  The camera starts to distort and the body twists and deforms, like how they have been mutilated.  These credits reminded me of the tv show "Hannibal" and how they shoot all of their gory crime scenes.  

There's a zoom in to the closed eyes of the corpse which then cuts to Pierre Niemans' (Jean Reno) eyes snapping open as he's driving through a tunnel.  The cuts between the tunnel lights and his eyes blinking open give us a real sense of time and distance, he's travelled a long way to get to where he's going.  There's an overhead shot of his car driving through the forest which reminded me of the opening shots of "The Shining".  Just from this opening I expected this to be more of a horror film in the "Silence of the Lambs" vein than it turned out to be.  

He arrives and meets up with the local police captain, Dahmane (Karim Belkhadra).  Dahmane says "I thought they were sending a unit", Niemans replies "I am the unit".  This guy is confident in his abilities, and the confidence in his voice and body language makes us believe him.  He seems relaxed despite the frenzied activity around him.  Dahmane then tells him "we're not used to this sort of thing", so we can expect something extreme since the local police are way out of their depth.....

 

Thanks for breaking it down. I wish it would have been that clear to me as i watched it. I liked your reaction to the twin reveal. Mine was literally...."Who the fuck is that???".

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