THE HORSEMAN ON THE ROOF
DIRECTOR:    JEAN-PAUL RAPPENEAU
FRANCE 1995
CINEMATOGRAPHY:    THIERRY ARBOGAST
MUSIC:    JEAN-CLAUDE PETIT
CAST:    Plivier Martinez, Juliette Binoche, Laura Marinoni, Paul Chevillard, Patrick Medioni, Phillipe Guegan
ONE WORD:    Nicely done film.


A few directors in France, seem to have taken upon themselves to take up the art of directing -- seriously -- and create films that have the actors as the strong point, and the story, well, maybe still (in these days anyway) valid in some form or another.

In what is another historical perspective story, this one is about the Austrian regime's oppressive manners in Europe after Napoleon went down. Many lords, and well to do people, specially in Italy, had to run away, as they became the political targets. To this end, many people assumed underground identities, and many were hunted all over Europe. Some succeeded, and some failed. This story, however romanticized, is one of those, while also adding a love story to the midst.

In the process of running from various Austrian agents that are chasing him, and probably others, Angelo bumps into Pauline, whose family has also been affected by the whole thing. And they become friends and help each other on various occasions, and are able to make it for a period of time, until they at least know that three agents that are after them are dead. While their adventure continues, they are becoming in love, although the younger Angelo is shy and proper, and Pauline is married. She finally reveals that she is married to a man 40 years older than she. By that time, he has already decided to get her home to her family first, in Italy. He does so.

But the elder husband of Pauline realizes that his wife falling in love for a younger man is to be expected, and he allows her to leave for him, where the film ends.

It is either a nice romantic novel, or a film that says little, except that two people help each other survive until the rest of their feelings take over.. however, this beautifully photographed film with sumptuous clothing and music, plods along, in a fashion that is not fast paced, but it does not seem to be an issue, somehow it seems right. It's hard to feel bored in this film, unless one is addicted to steroid films. And it is softly, gently, and directed in a manner that reminds us of the Claude Berri's opus works, with lots of patience, and lots of moments in between the main characters to keep our attention.

Both leads, Martinez and Binoche, are very good, despite the obvious, that she is much older than him. One might have liked to see a younger woman in the role, but to have two volatile young people may have made the film not as good as this one. These are not star crossed lovers in the hunt for a moment of their own... they just happen to get close enough to make a go of what they have been through which is not easy, or fun while it is happening and eventually it does.

This film is very much like a lot of French films at the time of the mid nineties. They may not have the technical delights of a Hollywood thriller, but they do have the beauty and design, and the care, to make the film stand out. And it is a very nice story, that even sheds a little light on another of Europe's many historical eras, which might be enjoyed and appreciated some. History tends to hide "the people", and in films like this, you can see it.

4 GIBLOONS

 

   

      

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