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LA DAME DANS L’AUTO AVEC DES LUNETTES ET UN FUSIL (France 2015) ***
(THE LADY IN THE CAR WITH GLASSES AND A GUN)
Directed by Joann Sfar
Review by Gilbert Seah
This is a remake of the 1970 Anthony Litvak British film with the same title starring Samantha Eggar and Oliver Reed. I have not seen the original but do not remember it as a particular famous film despite the reputation of Litvak. The film is an adaptation of the Sebastien Japrisot’s 1966 novel of the same name. But the remake is not too bad a film, a good mystery in which the solution remains an unsolvable puzzle till the very end. Which is very rare in a film these days. This is an entirely French film shot in French in France.
The film begins innocently enough with a naive and innocent secretary agreeing to work overtime for her boss (Benjamin Biolay). Dany (Freya Mavor) completes the job overnight at her boss’ house and ends up driving her boss and his wife from Paris to the Cote D’Azur only to be convinced to drive the car back alone to Paris. But Dany has never seen the sea and steals the car to take a detour to achieve her dream. That is when she discovers that a lot of people that she meets recognizes her the day before though she has never met all these people. Dany thinks she is going crazy with one weird incident after another happening. She encounters a sleazy thief that she has an affair with that eventually steals her (or her boss’ ) car. This is when a corpse is discovered in the trunk.
If all the above sound interesting, it all is. The mystery keeps the film absorbing from start to end. As an additional bonus, director Sfar effectively captures the mood of the 60’s and 70’s of this period piece. One can probably not be able tell the difference between the time setting of the original film and this one. Mavor is also an extremely sexy actress, her character flirting with one man after another while she swaggers her girly figure while swinging her purse.
The only problem is that the film’s climax cannot keep up with the interest the mystery generated. When the solution is presented, the film starts to drag. It is not that the solution is unbelievable but it is kind of obvious and one wonders why one has not thought of it earlier.
The lovely title should tease audiences to see the film, though the gun in the title should be replaced with rifle as Dany carries a rifle rather than a gun. One can probably guess that the rifle was swapped for the gun as Dany looks sexier holding a rifle than a gun.
Still, this psychological mystery thriller satisfies. And Dany turns out not to be that harmless as Sfar intended the audience to think. The film turns out to be a black comedy set in the bright lights of the south of France.
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