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4.0 out of 5 stars Belmondo and Lelouch on superb form, 14 May 2013
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Der Löwe (Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté) (Itinerary of a Spoiled Child) [DVD] (1988) (German Import) (DVD)
Claude Lelouch may be one of the most inconsistent directors around, but 1988's Itinerary of a Spoiled Child plays to his strengths and offers a fine Cesar-winning role and his last box-office hit for Jean-Paul Belmondo as the orphan turned injured circus performer who turned mucking out the stables into a multi-million sanitation business that dominates his life until he decides on a whim to fake his death during a solo trans-Atlantic voyage. He's happy enough keeping to himself and walking with lions in Africa until a couple of years later he's recognised by former employee Richard Anconina and learns that his children have made something of a hash of the empire he left them. Rather than resurrect himself, he decides to return to France and use Anconina as his proxy to sort things out...

Along with a strong visual sense that makes the most of his locations, Lelouch uses a fluid timeline, drifting back and forth for much of the first quarter, but unlike his more self-indulgent ensemble pieces here there's always a clear sense of where the film is going and why we should care about these people. On one level it's a curious mix of drama, light comedy, mild romance and feelgood whimsy that has a bit of everything without ever going all out in any one direction, yet somehow it all works rather perfectly. The hesitant Anconina's an amiable foil but it's Belmondo's performance that really anchors the film with a perfect mixture of star quality and underplayed heartfelt acting as a man who has everything but, though he'll never admit it, knows he's somehow not got anything really right along the way and, having broken all his toys, tries to walk away. It's not a particularly profound or insightful script, though it is much better than usual for Lelouch, but the star and the filmmaking manage to elevate the material to something surprisingly satisfying.

Unfortunately the film is hard to find in an English-friendly version, with only the German DVD (released as Der Lowe) offering English subtitles. It's an okay but unexceptional widescreen transfer but there's a terrible layer change that comes right in the middle of a song to allow a seven-minute sequence set in San Francisco and Singapore that was deleted from the German theatrical release to be included, and this section is only subtitled in German (though the American scenes are in English). Still, for the time being it's better than nothing, but it would be nice to see a better uncut subtitled release some time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars For fan and the others, 1 July 2013
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One of the best Belmondo so far, story is a bit too complicated but Bebel is at his saumun !! Must have
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