RECORDED DELIVERY: Lucie Aubrach
Claude Berri's Second World War picture opens with an impressive bang as Raymond Aubrach (Daniel Auteuil) and his French Resistance cohorts explode a Nazi munitions train. We later see Aubrach arrested by the Gestapo, after which the story switches to his wife, Lucie (Carole Bouquet), as she attempts to spring him out of prison. Berri's rendering of this true story is sporadically affecting, though it concentrates too much on the love story and offers little insight into life during the Nazi occupation. There are some moving moments from Bouquet and Auteuil, and Berri's palette of greys and browns (contrasted by Lucie's scarlet lipstick as she tries to win over a German officer) effectively add to the sense of oppression. But there is a disappointing element of caricature, seen in endless heated Resistance meetings and in Heino Ferch's dominating Gestapo officer as he grasps the thigh of his suspendered secretary after thrashing Raymond in his oak-panelled office. A rude reminder of 'Allo 'Allo's Herr Flick and his saucy Rhinemaiden, Helga. HHH
Paradise Road (15) Fox Pathe, 3 Aug
There is resistance of a different kind in Bruce Beresford's PoW drama, which echoes the snobbish sentimentality of Tenko. It follows a group of women who are captured after the ship ferrying them from occupied Singapore is sunk. After a few months of bitching in the showers and reminiscing over their public-school days, they fight back with a harmonised rendition of the Largo from Dvorak's New World symphony which brings tears to the eyes of their captors. The cast, including Glenn Close, Pauline Collins, Frances McDormand and Jennifer Ehle, almost lend the cliched script credibility (though after two years of starvation, they all remain suspiciously plump). But the scenes of Japanese brutality alternating with chocolate-box music rehearsals become repetitive and it is difficult to decide which is more painful. H
Fire Down Below (18) Warner, rental, 7 Aug
Combining the hushed tones of Clint Eastwood with the ego of Michael Flatley, Steven Seagal plays an agent sent to investigate the killing of a colleague in a backward Southern town. Unintentional silliness makes Felix Enrique Alcala's moralising picture diverting for all the wrong reasons. H
HHHH excellent HHH good HH average H poor
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