Monday, January 26, 2009

Nikita comes to Film Club

Right, let's start with the positive stuff about this widely revered film by Luc Besson.

The cinematography is terrific: great tableaux, excellent framing and editing. It's quite a visual treat.

Taking the eponymous lead, Anne Parrilaud gives us a beautifully detailed performance of confusion and simple wrong-headedness with a hard-nosed killer's instinct. She's both vulnerable and hard-as-nails; a masterful turn.The film also has a highly entertaining cameo by one of my favourite actors, Jean Reno, as a "cleaner" or, more accurately, a psychopathic hitman. His all-too-brief appearance is both violent and funny. But.

You knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you?

More or less everything else about the film is decidedly second rate. The plot, such as it is, requires a massive suspension of disbelief. If you worked for a top secret government agency trying to recruit an assassin, would you really choose a hopeless heroin addict and cop-killer? I don't think so.The film runs out of steam quite quickly and is one of those which seems to be unable to make up its mind what it wants to be - thriller, love story, human tragedy, mild erotica? It could have been any one of those and been a great film; possibly any two of those, and still be at the upper end of good.
Sadly, Monsieur Besson appears to have forgotten direction in his directorial role and the narrative gets bogged down with inexplicable scenarios for our heroine to negotiate. Frankly, it just gets plain silly.

On the film club scale - Dong took a fag break about two thirds of the way through (not a good sign); Frankenkeith said he gave up concentrating at the half way stage and wondered what the point of the film was; Shazzerooneypoos didn't actually snore (which has been known) but felt dissatisfied with the plot. Rob wasn't hugely impressed, either.

As an obvious forerunner to the brilliant Leon (same director, made four years later) this film has some interest, but overall Mrs The Millbrooker and I came away feeling distinctly underwhelmed. I think I'd have to recommend giving this one a miss.

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