Take a very american novel by Douglas Kennedy, for example The Big Picture, change the setting to France, Europe, and, please, star Romain Duris in the leading role (for the theaters to be filled with ladies, dying to catch a glimpse of this guy)! This is basically the skeleton of Eric Lartigau’s latest film L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie. Internationally known under the same title as the novel.
Lartigau succeeds to develop a frantic questioning of identity and a hitchcockian-like narration, full of suspense. An innocent and, perhaps, a little too slow and too predictable overture metamorphoses itself into a manipulating thriller. Not bad at all, for a director this young.
For the sake of a little enlightenment – Romain Duris plays a role of Paul Exben: quite a successful chap – two nice kids, goddess of a wife, a job that pays more than the rent and Catherine Deneuve as a his pal (she stars as Paul’s boss/best friend Anna). Of course, as you might have noticed, this perfection smells of trouble. His wife leaves him, a very stupid accident occurs, in short, he finds himself in a disturbing situation. But above all, it’s the lack of guts to live his life for himself that bothers the character of Paul. This is the leitmotif of the particular way of dealing with things. The dissatisfaction lances an exquisitely refined change (or shall I say theft to be more accurate) of identity, which after some spine chilling events finally leads Paul (and perhaps the spectator) to the big picture.
Romain Duris, obviously is Latrigau’s most valuable instrument in this movie. Even to an extent that L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie is under the shadow of this acclaimed actor. If not internationally, certainly in France. Lucky for us and for Romain, this time there’s no shame about the star. He does his work admirably – you might want to see this picture just to reassure yourself that you haven’t forgotten what does good acting look like. Then again – the role of Paul Exben is very good material for an actor to work with.
Living your own life becomes the most important issue. And there wasn’t the slightest idea of how easy it is to lose an identity and live someone else’s life. At least in this film.