THE ELEGANT CRIMINAL  (Lacenaire)
DIRECTOR:    Francis Girod
FRANCE    1990
CAST: Daniel Auteuil, Jean Poiret, Jacques Weber
ONE WORD:    Nice story.


The story of a French revolutionary character, who undertook to take upon himself, to stand up for a few rights, when he realized that he was not loved, or cared for, in any way.

And for his doings, he is awarded the guillotine, which he accepts with aplomb. He has a desire to die, since he has nothing to live for, something which he picked up because his mother had little affection for him.

Lacenaire, becomes a man, not obsessed with killing, but a person who intellectualizes the act of killing, as a form of a justice system where honesty is the only character which has to be lived for. And in the courts, he never denies what he did, and his above average intelligence, helps define a mind that is less demented, than it is a good follower of true reason, and reason which makes sense. And he has become a robber of those who themselves actually cheat and steal from others. And the film suggests that he made sure that he set up
a situation that was nearly impossible, which will help him get caught, rather than having to live the life of a fugitive, or at least, one who does not have the courage to realize that his only freedom is to be done away with, in a society which he does not love, and more over, can not bring himself to love.

He seems to have a few affairs, and they have to be of the kind where he can feel like he is taking advantage of the woman, or he can't do it. It's the excitement of knowing that the woman does not want him, that spurs him on.

The last days of his life, Lacenaire writes everything down, which is to be published. In the writings, which the caretaker, another writer, and a publisher have actually to sit down and edit page per page, there are scathing attacks on the inequities of the government, and people in general. The book, were it published as it had been written, may have given the publisher himself the same death as the criminal. Where Lacenaire lacks love, he has the noble temperament to talk about it.

With a very good performance by Daniel Auteuil, this film plods along very nicely, even though we know he is going to get his head cut off. It is actually told in retrospect, by the
caretaker, and the two editors, who are trying very hard to figure out how to publish this thing without getting themselves thrown into a public execution.

There are some similarities, if you will, between this type of character and the ones found in the works of the Marquis de Sade, where there is a certain amount of courage on the part of the person who is punishing himself first, rather than allow a society to do it for him, and a society whose mores do not actually include an ethics code, as much as it does an idealistic system. France should know about this, since it has had so many changes in government, and each change in the late 18th century, and 19th century, seems to have led to public executions. It was their way of getting rid of the enemy, or those who had different political ideologies. Lacenaire, is a blatant attacker of that system, and unleashes a fury, with class, elegance, which the editors of his memoirs have to soften down.

VERY GOOD FILM, THOUGH NOT FOR EVERYBODY.
STRONG POLITICAL UNDERTONES.

4 GIBLOONS

 

   

      

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