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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Original, 30 May 2013
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This review is from: 1, 2, 3 Trilogy [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
There shouldn't be any spoilers in this review.

The three films are:

Cavale or On The Run (a thriller)
Un Couple Epartant or An Amazing Couple (a comedy)
Apres La Vie or After Life (a melodrama).

The main characters in each film are supporting characters in the other two films.

The action in all three films taking place over the same time frame, and with overlapping scenes which reveal the overall story in more and more detail. Although each film has its own style and although each of the three films could be watched as a stand-alone piece it would really only be one third of the whole.

To use a dinner party analogy, if one arrived late and had the main course and then left, although food would have been consumed and conversation had, one would not have had the conversation during the starter or during the desert and as it is only at the end of the dinner party that one finds out who has been doing what to who and why they were doing it - and it is in this way that when all three film are viewed that everything falls into place.

In the three films there are three couples whose lives together with their family, friends and colleagues are affected by Bruno, the character played by the director Lucas Belvaux.

The story within each film and the story as a whole is something that one should not only be keep to find out the next piece of the jig-saw, but should at times (and I quote from the back of the DVD box) "Have the power to shock, move and delight in equal measure."

The director Lucas Belvaux also acts in all three film. His fellow actors include: Catherine Frot, Dominique Blanc, Ornella Muti, Gilbert Melki, Patrick Descamps, Francois Morel, Bernard Mazzinghi and Valerie Mairesse amongst others.

The three films are set mainly in Grenoble in the foothills of the Alps.

The acting is outstanding form all of the actors as is the direction from Lucas Belvaux.

The total running time for all three films is just over five and a half hours, they are in French and come with optional English subtitles. The collector's 4-disc set comes with some extra short pieces:

Universal Time: The Journey Through Saturday In All Three Films (with optional directors commentary).

Relative Time: Common Scenes In The Trilogy (with optional directors commentary).

Rhythmic Time: The Importance Of Music In The Lobby Scene (with optional directors commentary and commentary by Riccardo Del Fra).

An Alternative Ending (with optional directors commentary).

Some images of what I assume to be the directors notes.

And Acknowledgements.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Belvaux's Three Film Set is a Belter, 8 Feb 2012
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 1, 2, 3 Trilogy [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
I watched this set over a few days whilst under the weather from some wintry illness.

ONE: 'On The Run' - French cinema pioneered the perfect heist movie and whilst this is essentially more a fugitive chase after a jail break, it never lets up. It's quite complex, yet not impenetrably so and covers many contemporary issues such as police corruption and drug addiction. Films such as The French Connection, Ronin, Leon and Nikkita are all Gallic set or influenced and may have influenced Belcaux in the making of this. (I'd recommend all those titles on their own merit, too).

There's a stone-cold calculating ruthlessness about the lead, like Edward Fox's "Day of the Jackal" (French set, of course; comparisons can be made, though that film's sheer slickness isn't quite there). The French are currently doing some excellent crime drama but this takes it further as we are whistle-stopped around some wonderful Alpine locations. This allows us to breathe more freely, visually, but the action still zips along, culminating with a quite unexpected conclusion.

We know that there's an element of a political, possibly local terrorism cell that may get re-ignited running through this film and we're not told everything either, which adds to the suspense. Noted French financed films such as 'Battle of Algiers' and 'Z' have paved the way for, often paler Hollywood impersonations. This film isn't about shooting 'em up, Stallone style. It's multi-layered, with repercussions rippling outwards....

The near two-hour runtime doesn't drag and whilst there might not be the lead charisma, cleverness, wit perhaps or sheer scale of the very best US blockbuster, there are many memorable twists and turns and has a gritty sense of realism. Anyone in the U.K having seen, say, Wallander, won't be disappointed.

TWO: I'm not sure how "Two" could be the 1st instalment of a trilogy, but none-the-less I watched it after "On the Run" (or 'One').

Hypochondriac compulsives always have the potential to make good comedy subjects and (can't remember the character's name) a possible cancer scare causes him to update his will and testament constantly on his portable voice recorder. Hiding his paranoia from his wife naturally causes erratic behaviour, and thinking a mistress being involved she employs a police friend to investigate.

It is weaker than the terrific thriller of On The Run, but this often farcical comedy of modern errors is fast-moving, tipping its hat occasionally to Jacques Tati and has frenetic and furtive people dashing about in cars. It all gets a little messy and complex and after a while the connection with On the Run blurs with this one.

Some scenes have been edited into 'Two' - unfortunately, they don't make any revelations but, neither do they detract. It's actually a good way to re-use locations (the alpine lodge, for example), cars even and many props and of course, actors. This allows cross-continuity but might all seem a just a bit too clever.

THREE: 'Afterlife' - Whereas 'One' was a gritty thriller, 'Two' a comedy of errors, 'AfterLife' is a very different ballgame. Quoted as a melodrama on the DVD, its emotional clout, this final instalment of the Trilogy, is immense, churning and raw.

Acted with true conviction of the jackpot lottery that is long-term drug addiction by actress Dominique Blanc and an almost disarming level of devotion from her policeman husband, this is stuff that made me hit the pause button as I found it a little overwhelming at times. Don't get me wrong, this is brilliant stuff but like the real deal, isn't an easy ride. Without adding a spoiler, there is light at the end of the tunnel - as there indeed is for any addict, given love and support.

What made it all the more worthwhile was how effortlessly the jigsaw pieces fell into place from (especially the first) previous parts and rather like coming clean and sober, the veil of confusion slowly lifts. The intense mood of the piece doesn't allow you to think beyond your TV screen - you almost don't have the energy to question 'what-if's' etc. It all goes to show that behind every addict, every killer, every crooked cop, there's a plethora of interweaving stories that form an individual and they're all linked in some way or another.

My boxset of Belavaux's had been sitting on my shelf for months and I'd not really known what lay inside. One could question as to why practically no-one's ever heard of this trilogy and as to whether it should be better known. The latter's answer is definitely YES, but it isn't for everyone and does require quite a commitment in both time and emotional energy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating 'Trilogy', 12 Jan 2012
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1, 2, 3 Trilogy [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
This contains all three films of Belvaux's 'The Trilogy',

I highly recommend 'The Trilogy'. It's a fascinating, brave cinematic
experiment - three films of wildly different styles and tones combining to tell
one story. If in the end it doesn't quite achieve greatness, it still is strong
filmmaking with excellent acting, and is unlike any other series of films
I can think of.

Part 1. On the Run

This first part is a taught, well made, violent thriller, following an
escaped communist revolutionary, determined to return to the bombing
and violence that put him in jail 20 years ago, while settling old
scores with enemies, and re-contacting old allies.

Belvaux shows daring in not working to make his character very
sympathetic, and allowing our initial almost automatic sympathy for our
lead character to be ever more harshly challenged. We come slowly to
realize this is a violent zealot, unmoved by the fact that the
revolution that seemed to make sense as a young man now seems arbitrary
and insane, and that his callous disregard for his victims isn't much
of a start on a new world order.

In a vacuum, this dark, cynical noir would still be a good film, but
with the next part of the Trilogy, it gains in levels and meanings.

There are real flaws here - a few plot twists are hard to buy, some
character behavior unclear (although less unclear after part 2). A guy
this smart wouldn't make a couple of the mistakes he does. And the
score is frustratingly repetitious. But it's never boring, always
involving, and with the next film, it's something more.

BTW, frustratingly I noticed Amazon has put this review, which was
written only for the first part of 'The Trilogy' - 'On the Run' -
on the whole set. So for those reading this review under 'The Trilogy'
here are my comments on films 2 and 3;

Part 2: 'An Amazing Couple'

This is mostly a well plotted and acted lighthearted farce about marriage,
trust and fidelity, with serious issues not far below the surface.
Seeing this airy fare right after the darkness of 'On the Run' (part 1 of the Trilogy)
gives an almost Zen like insight into the two sides of life - light and dark,
silly and tragic, and how those two dance and interweave.

Yes, a few of the comic twists are a bit forced, but many more are
clever and really amusing, and all the characters are simultaneously
lovable and infuriating.

But most amazing is the chill one feels when the overlaps with 'On the
Run' become apparent. Even more than "On the Run", "An Amazing
Couple" is a far better film for being part of the bigger whole.

Interestingly the top professional critics were split on this film in particular,
and on 'The Trilogy' as a whole, calling it everything from 'a masterpiece' to
'a self involved misfire' .

Part 3. After the Life

This intense drama of a cop trying to deal with his morphine addicted life puts
more pieces in place of the world of stories Belvaux has created. It is fascinating
to see scenes that played as comedy in part 2 "An Amazing Couple", repeated here,
exactly as they were, but now they feel dead serious because of the change in context.

The only problem for me - and most critics disagree, is that for me this was the
weakest of the three films, the acting sometimes over the top, character logic
sometimes vague or missing. I felt disappointed, because after part 2 made me like
part 1 even better, I was hoping part 3 would raise the whole into more than the
sum of it's parts, into 'great film event' territory. Sadly, that didn't quite happen for me
- maybe because I was expecting too much.

I'd certainly give this another shot, and it's absolutely a good film, with some very
touching moments.

It just felt a little more obvious in how it brought 'The Trilogy's' stories and themes
(obsession, blindness in service of an idea or need) together than what I wished for.
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1, 2, 3 Trilogy [2007] [DVD]
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