Director: Phillipe de Broca
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Fabrice Luchini, Vincent Perez, Marie Gillain
Sumptuous swashbucklers are fast becoming French cinema's stock-in-trade. This effort doesn't break much new ground, but is acted and shot with such magnificent braggadocio that its lack of originality is never a problem.
Fabrice Luchini makes a supremely oleaginous villain. Vincent Perez leaps hither and thither like a latter-day Douglas Fairbanks, while Daniel Auteil's character seems like a cross between Cyrano and D'Artagnan.
He tends the abandoned young baby who soon blossoms into the beautiful Aurore (Marie Gillain). Who cares about the cliches when the storytelling is so vivid?
Curzon Mayfair, Richmond Filmhouse
GADJO DILO (15)
Director: Tony Gatlif
Starring: Romain Duris, Rona Hartner, Izidor Serban
Stephane (Romain Duris), a young Parisian, tramps down a long, icy road, somewhere in rural Romania, on a quest for Nora Luca, the gypsy singer whose music he discovered through his father. After a drunken night with Izidor, an old man he meets crying and cursing in the snow, Stephane learns gradually about the habits, superstitions and, above all, the music of his gypsy hosts. There is a warmth and humour to the storytelling, and an integrity that pushes this film way beyond being mere sentimental travelogue.
THE LIFE OF STUFF (U)
Director: Simon Donald
Starring: Ewen Bremner, Ciaran Hinds, Jason Flemyng, Gina McKee
A profoundly depressing Glasgow gangland drama. The performances and direction are pitched at such an overwrought level from the very first scene that the film does not have anywhere to go.
The claustrophobic settings (almost the entire story takes place in a deserted warehouse) do not help at all. Nor does the melodramatic sub-John Barry music. Ewen Bremner and Gina McKee do their best as two hostages trapped in the basement, but the shock tactics (including various explosions, tortures, ferocious bloodlettings etc) do little but leave the viewer numb.
Director: Philip Saville
Starring: Christian Bale, Ewen McGregor
In this suburban morality tale, Chris (Christian Bale) is festering somewhere in the commuter belt, playing happy families, when his old friend Tony (Lee Ross) thinks that he ought to be out having fun.
Most of the film is set in the 1970s, but the period is not reconstructed with any great verve. There is plenty that is likeable - the late-1960s Paris interlude, in which Chris acts up as a Left Bank boulevardier, is very endearing. But back on home soil, the storytelling is less assured, and on the whole, Saville displays a dispiriting lack of ambition.
Metro, Odeon Kensington, Virgin Fulham Road, Virgin Haymarket
THE X-FILES (15)
Director: Rob Bowman
Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
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