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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Sinister
A dark and sinister psychological thriller is the best description of The Serpent. Despite being subtitled, this doesn't detract from the suspense for much of the tension is visual, thanks mainly to the convincingly sane but ever-increasingly insane Joseph Plender, old school acquaintance of leading role Vincent Mandel.

The plot follows that of many other...
Published on 5 Mar 2008 by Mart

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get Plender
French thriller Le Serpent is a long gestating adaptation of Get Carter author Ted Lewis' seedy 70s blackmail thriller Plender. A British adaptation was in development for years before this French version finally reached the screen in 2006, but it's good enough to wipe away some of the aftertaste of the Get Carter remake. It's not quite as seedy as the book and loses the...
Published on 24 Feb 2008 by Trevor Willsmer


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Sinister, 5 Mar 2008
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Mart (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Serpent [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
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A dark and sinister psychological thriller is the best description of The Serpent. Despite being subtitled, this doesn't detract from the suspense for much of the tension is visual, thanks mainly to the convincingly sane but ever-increasingly insane Joseph Plender, old school acquaintance of leading role Vincent Mandel.

The plot follows that of many other films, with the underlying theme of blackmail intertwined with the complications of divorce, sex, revenge, child abuse and more.

Much has already be made of the comparisons with `Get Carter', written by the same author as The Serpent, and the merits of the (few) actors there are in this film, but for me it was a perfect late night thriller, sometimes predictable, but always enjoyable, and at times genuinely sinister and disturbing.

Don't analyse it too much, just enjoy it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get Plender, 24 Feb 2008
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Serpent [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
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French thriller Le Serpent is a long gestating adaptation of Get Carter author Ted Lewis' seedy 70s blackmail thriller Plender. A British adaptation was in development for years before this French version finally reached the screen in 2006, but it's good enough to wipe away some of the aftertaste of the Get Carter remake. It's not quite as seedy as the book and loses the flashbacks that drive much of the novel but it translates surprisingly well to the other side of the English Channel and the present day.

Yvan Attal is Vincent, a photographer going through a messy and very hostile custody battle with his rich wife, aggravated by their sharing the same house, who gets set up in what initially appears to be a honeytrap involving a model. When an ill-advised second meeting with her (not the only unlikely plot development dependent on the character's stupidity by any means) ends up very messily, he finds old school friend, private investigator and blackmailer Joseph Plender literally crashing back into his life, disposing of the evidence and worming his way into Vincent's wife's confidence and setting about destroying his life. But it's not money he's after. He doesn't even want what Vincent has - he just wants Vincent to have everything taken away from him...

There are a few bumps - for the sake of moving the plot along quickly it's absurdly easy to find out certain pieces of information about characters, while an early photo-session scene doesn't convince - but for the most part this is a satisfying late-night thriller, largely due to a very convincingly malignant Clovis Cornillac as Plender. While at times it's possible to recognise the schoolboy that Vincent barely tolerated in him, there's a focussed and highly efficient rage behind his blank face and hooded eyes. He's the worst kind of nemesis - one with a legitimate grudge and nothing to lose. By comparison, Attal's increasingly off-balance ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances can't really compete, though he gives it a good try. There's fine support from Simon Abkarian as that only-in-the-movies staple, the loyal and tenacious family lawyer who actually cares about his client and goes out of his way to try to clear up the mess in considerably less than three years at £80 an hour as well as an initially unrecognisable Pierre Richard as one of Plender's earlier victims, though Olga Kurylenko makes little impression as the model in the plot, boding ill for her upcoming role in the new Bond film, Quantum of Solace.

The film doesn't offer that much in the way of surprises, but it's more than efficiently executed - an unlikely but still exciting escape from custody is a standout - even if the end does feel disappointingly overfamiliar. Alongside a good widescreen transfer, Metrodome's DVD offers a fairly reasonable extras package includes a bland 26-minute making of documentary (everybody loved everybody else and had a great time, apparently), UK exclusive interviews with director Eric Barbier, producer Eric Jehelmann and Olga Kurylenko, and the UK trailer, which goes out of its way to hide the film's French origins. However, most of the extras from the French 2-disc edition (deleted scenes, additional interviews, short film La Face Perdue) haven't made it across the Channel to the UK disc.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Note Worthy Film, 4 Mar 2008
By 
Andrew Kerr (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Serpent [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
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The Serpent, is a French thriller that's ripe with revenge, action, and violence. It follows the seemly picture perfect life of Vincent Mandel, a photographer with a beautiful wife and two children. However we soon find that his life is anything but ideal. Poor Vincent is being framed for rape and murder, and things are just getting started.

Thankfully, The Serpent is simply subtitled and not dubbed (if there one thing I hate about foreign films, its poorly dubbed productions with no concept of audio/visual sync.) The plot has actually been done really well, and has obviously carefully been thought-out. There are a few nail biting moments throughout especially as the pace intensifies further in the film. This is the sort of film that's guaranteed to get your attention and keep you entertained. The atmosphere and tone created are nothing less than perfect, giving you a real impression of danger and the hate portrayed from one of the characters.

There are also some good special features included that add to the entertainment factor. The Serpent offers everything you could possibly want from a film of this genre.

Unfortunately there are a few problems with The Serpent that robbed it off a five star award, several elements of the plot seem rather unlikely and unbelievable. The beginning of the film is quite slow, which will put some people off, and personally I feel that the acting from Yyvan Attal (who plays the main character Vincent) leaves a lot to be desired. And with most thrillers, the ending (however good) is rather predicable.

But despite a few small failings, The Serpent is still a note worthy film, compelling enough for me to recommend it to you as I doubt it will disappoint.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars French thriller than feels like a British film, 13 Feb 2010
A Kid's Review
This review is from: The Serpent [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
I don't think that this is as good as something such as Mesrine, but this film has a degree of grit and style about it which takes the film several notches over other attempts by French cinema to produce something that can match the more mainstream American cop film. For me, this film probably suceeds simply for the fact that it is based upon a novel by the author of cult British thriller "Get Carter" and results in something more akin to what we British usually make a crime thrillers. These comparisons are not too far fetched although the story does seem to stretch the credibility. However, with something so edge-of-the seat as this, surely the suspence of belief is half of the appeal.

The story concerns a photographer who is set up by a blackmailer for the murder of a model played by Bond girl Olga Kurylenko and who works his way into his victim's life gradually resulting in the police believing he is the criminal as opposed to the credible criminal played with threatening presence by Clovis Cornillac. The storyline twists and turns with the principle character increasingly finding himself in hot water as we start to learn the motives of the perpetrator.

All in all, this is a slick and styling thriller, not too violent and certainly good enough to give most Hollywood films of a similar ilk a good run for their money in the excitement stakes. I found it to be exciting and a marked improvement on something like the over-rated "Tell no one" which seems like an episode of "Murder she wrote" by comparison. The violence is not gratuitous and the plot intriguing enough to keep you hooked. I thought that this was a great film, much in the spirit of British gangster films and certainly good enough to dispell any doubts about sub-titles if this is something you dislike about foriegn films. Decidedly mainstream, I would give the thumbs up to this suspence thriller. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but a little too French (in a good sense of course), 18 Mar 2008
By 
Astore Stargazer (Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Serpent [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
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Needless to say this subtitled film wasn't quite what I was expecting when I ordered it. But nevertheless after much arm twisting and quoting actors like Jean Reno and Armand Assante, I managed to convince my girl friend that it might be a really good film. If not we would get our entertainment another way by laughing at how crap it was.

In truth though, it wasn't that bad. Although I try very hard to subscribe and stick to the theory of not to judge a book by its cover, one could have forgiven me this time around but the film we found to be quite compelling. The story centres on a moody French photographer wrangling over custody of his children. Things get worse as a blast from the past comes into play as an old school friend comes back into his life. The story then develops into a tale of vengeance as his former school buddy bit by bit shows his real intentions.

The film is shot really well, and no doubt that this being a French B movie the acting is also of a good standard. Yval Atal leads the way his on screen moodiness and the passion he shows over the custody situation is really good. But as you time goes by there is the old dejavu feeling as some of the scenes are almost text book I want to be a thriller scenes that you see on so many of the Hollywood b movies and American TV films but never quite living up to it. The film gets more and more predictable as you reach its conclusion but by then you have already guessed what that is leaving you with no surprises.

I do commend the acting though, and the film does have that blockbuster appeal without ever hitting the heights. By no means the worst film I've ever watched, but I thought this film is more suited a late night flick through the channels than a place amongst my hallowed DVD collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark and twisted tale of vengeance, 3 Mar 2008
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Planet G "stendec-306" (Berkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Serpent [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
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When an old school acquantance runs into Vincent Mandal one night - literally that is - Mandal, played by Yyvan Attal, is already in trouble. A photographer in the middle of an emotional separation, someone is trying to set him up. He thinks its something to do with his divorce proceedings, but in fact his old school "friend", Joseph Plender, played magnificently by Clovis Cornillac, is harbouring a grudge against Mandal over a bullying prank that went wrong in their school days and caused Plender to be transformed into a psychopathic killer with one goal - Revenge. Plender has finally managed to track Mandal down and now it's payback with interest time. This film is a darker version of Cape Fear, and Plender's character reminded me of John Ryder from Hitcher - an extremely intelligent sadist with a taste for extreme violence and a total lack of fear. The photography is brooding and almost monochromatic at times, the action scenes well choreographed and hence the movie has an edgy quality about it that provides a saturated atmosphere dripping with anger and revenge.
Simon Akbarian is Mandal's lawyer - a voice of reason amongst all the chaos - and the one person who believes Mandal's story when everyone else starts to believe he is the psychotic in the pack. As Plender ingratiates himself with Mandal's wife and family, the tension and violence rise to a breaking point and a climax which is a little too obvious given the quality of Cornillac's performance as Plender. A good DVD for the collection though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood-esque French action thriller., 1 Mar 2008
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Serpent [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
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This is a French film with a very Hollywood feel.

The usual long edited scenes typical of French Cinema are pushed aside in favour of action. This isn't a "sell out" though, the film contains some strong characters. It would have been easy to have made the sociopathic Plender a basic two-dimensional pyscho, but instead we get a deep character with a past to help us understand and perhaps (to a small extent) sympathise. Clovis Cornillac is perfectly creepy as the troubled blackmailer who worms his way into Vincent's life, attempting to destroy it in order to make half a million and at the same time help put his past demons to rest.

Vincent is the stylish French man most guys would love to be, and as with Plender; the role is pulled off perfectly, this time by Yvan Attal who has the required suave appearance, whilst still looking like the sort of bloke you'd see stood next to you at the bus stop.

I don't want to discuss the story too much as this is the sort of film you want to watch without any of the developments given away, but if you like a good psychological thriller then this should be right up 'votre rue'.

Others have pointed out that the trailer to this film seems to hide the fact that it is French, which seems a shame as European cinema is something to be celebrated. But - I know people who won't even consider watching a subtitled foreign language film, this seems bizarre to me - why limit the massive range of cinema available to you, to a small slice of the pie by only experiencing English language films?! Crazy! That's where the strength of this film kicks in - it's a film to wean the 'Hollywood only' brigade onto something new. Le Serpent feels familiar, it's on ground well trodden by Hollywood movies, hopefully this will be watched and enjoyed by a new audience, and fingers crossed, those viewers will stop at the foreign language section of their local DVD shop rather than walk straight past it.

So in a nutshell: This film bridges the gap between European and Hollywood cinema. It's a thriller with incredibly tense moments, I was relieved to receive a distracting text message from a friend part-way through the film so that I could relax my stomach muscles for a few seconds! Seriously though - this is a great film, and if someone who wouldn't normally watch a subtitled feature were to take a punt on this, and then go on to watch other foreign language titles - then this could go on to be a very important film indeed. Many suspect this will be bought and re-shot as a Hollywood Movie, I can certainly see a director like Gregory Hoblit enjoying a chance to sharpen his teeth with this - but this is a film which does not need remaking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars La Revanche, Mais Est-Elle Vraiment enrichissante?, 25 Feb 2008
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DL Productions UK (Merseyside, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Serpent [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
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I have to say this movie is amazing, Yvan Attal (Rush Hour 3, Munich) plays dubious Vincent, a photographer, who really doesn't seem to have a great sense of purpose in life, but he seems a good father to the children. He's married to Helene, a mother of two, who doesn't really feel she's connecting with Vincent anymore, and wants a divorce. She's determined to get the kids away from him too.

Things go strange for Vincent when Sophia (Olga Kurylenko; better known for her work in Hitman and Paris, Je T'aime) arrives instead of Clare for a photoshoot in his studio. He doesn't really care: he needs a model and she's there. Things turn sour when she drugs him, claims he raped her, and then retracts her statement.

Then he meets an old friend, Joseph Plender (Clovis Cornillac: who's making quite a name for himself in French cinema), a rogue, vengeful and spiteful, he tries to play the good guy, but Vincent soon finds himself in a terrible situation, and everyone he thinks he can turn to, end up either sinking with him, or ending up being threatened by this vagabond.

As I said, this is a great film, many twists, turns and strange eventualities, but the script is very good. Yvan Attal has really made an impact on this movie, and you wonder why he's going for poor roles in films like Rush Hour 3; his deliverance is perfect, and his fear evident. I didn't really think much of the others, but Clovis Cornillac really did a good job of Joseph: his multiple personalities well drawn out. Eric's direction is another reason why French cinema is nowhere near being dead and has a premier seat in Europe's cinema. The stylish filiming, scenerios and the rain all make the film feel tense, like you know it's not going to be straight laced.

The DVD is flawless too, and includes some wonderful extras, including an interview with Clovis Cornillac, the trailer, and a making of. The interview with Eric Barbier was the highlight for me. The picture quality is OK, but at times I did see grain in the picture, especially during the filing in the tomb of Joseph's mother. The sound is crisp and clear, and the full frame is pretty good. The subtitling is very clear, not that I need it - being fluent in French, though I did notice a few moments where the translation wasn't quite spot on, but this happens in a lot of non-English movies.

If you're considering this, then do give it a go: it's an interesting piece of work, and Yvan Attal is always worth watching, he's becoming a favourite of mine in French cinema. The tension is amazing, if you like trillers don't be put off by the fact is subtitled, this really is a masterpiece. It's one of Eric Barbier's first films, and I hope it's not the last.

Amazing
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, intelligent thriller, 23 Feb 2008
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The Penguin "JH" (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Serpent [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
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I got this DVD this morning and thought I'd have a quick look and see if it was promising before looking again tonight. I have just finished watching it and I have to say that this is a lesson in how to make a thriller. The acting is tight and thoughtfully realised and the story, with so many absolutely grim aspects moves apace, never letting the viewer wallow in what has been revealed.

The settings are reminiscent of 36 Quai des orfervres and the exposure to the French judicial system is also similar, I read now that it is from the same writer as "get carter" - which is interesting as the unremitting story of revenge in there, but this is no simple French remake of the Caine classic.
I must recommend this title as there is every risk that, like 36 Quai des orfervres that it will be siezed by an American studio and remade, losing much of the subtelty that is so well done by the French.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good..., 9 Mar 2008
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This review is from: The Serpent [2007] [DVD] (DVD)
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I'm not used to thinking of French cinema as particularly productive in the thriller genre. I had forgotten that this was French when I put the disc in the player, so I was a bit bemused when the previews finished and the movie came on: "Le" -- not "The" -- "Serpent". (Oh bum, I say to my movie date, it's going to have subtitles.)

The need for subtitling (I don't speak French) didn't hamper the film's need for pace at all. (Well done, the translator.) The tension builds jaggedly to uncomfortably good effect, finishing with a satisfyingly visceral climax (and a post-modern happy postscript to boot, how's about that). Surprisingly, the comparative lack of gore usually present in present-day special-effects-laden thriller/horror flicks and the almost subdued camera work enhance rather than detract from the rawness of the final struggle between Vincent and his erstwhile nemesis, Plender.

I guess the French-ness of the whole enterprise is stamped in the stylish artistry of the nude scenes (there were some) and of the cinematography as a whole and the overall quality of the acting -- no reliance here on big names, I think. (Though my knowledge of French cinema is sparse, so I wouldn't really know.)

Watch this if you like thrillers and are thinking of an intro to French cinema?
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The Serpent [2007] [DVD]
The Serpent [2007] [DVD] by Eric Barbier (DVD - 2008)
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