on 3 July 2014
I think Daniel Auteuil is a great actor, though his talent, like any actor’s talent may be wasted in the wrong film (with Auteuil one such wasted film would be Après Vous, which for me just did not work. On the other hand, here, Daniel Auteuil excels in this very stylised film that has equally good performances from the rest of the cast (Monica Bellucci, Michel Blanc, Gilbert Melki and Eric Cantona to name a few), along with direction from Alain Corneau, great camerawork (and angles), a fantastic soundtrack, a brilliant story – in short everything about The Second Wind makes this a stunning piece of cinema for me.
A Cops ‘n Robbers story set in 1960’s France and having much to do with honour amongst one’s peers, this is a film I would recommend to anyone who likes Daniel Auteuil – even anyone who may have only seen him in Après Vous as you couldn’t get two more different films.
There are no Extras on the DVD other than a Trailer, which is perhaps a shame as a Making Of feature would have been interesting I’m sure. Still a five star film though.
on 26 February 2010
Longtime gangster Gustave Minda(Daniel Auteuil)escapes from prison and returns to Paris only to find old friend Manouche(Monica Bellucci)being targeted by a bar owner for reasons that become apparent.Minda decides to help settle a score as well as setting one up before he flees to Italy and retirement.
Handsome production values somewhat overshadow this old fashioned,overheated remake of J P Melville's 1966 Le Deuxieme Souffle which lacks all the subtlety of the original but makes up for it with an energetic approach that after a clumsy opening half hour develops into an engrossing piece of work with sporadic bursts of violence.
Bellucci is a beauteous decoration again(Blonde this time but can she act worth a damn?),Auteuil going outside his usual cool,melancolic detatchment is just okay for him but Jacques Tutronc as a wide headed wiseguy and Michel Blanc as the cunning Inspector Blot get all the best lines and consequently give the best performances.
Director Alain Corneau invokes some of Melville's pet themes - criminal professionalism and rigid codes of honour - in the final act which is steeped in fatalism for cool/desperate criminals.
Long but never boring.
French director Alain Corneau spent so much of the latter years of his career making mood and character pieces that don't really go anywhere that it's all too easy to forget he started out making thrillers. From the poor critical and box-office reaction to his 2007 version of Le Deuxieme Soufflé, or The Second Wind as it's called on UK DVD, he might have regretted going back to his old stamping ground for what would be his penultimate film, especially after the unflattering comparisons with Jean-Pierre Melville's 1966 version of Jose Giovanni's novel, but it's a surprisingly effective thriller on its own terms. While it's relatively unusual to see him handling a story with a distinct beginning, middle and end these days, he responds surprisingly well to the pulp material and even improves on some aspects of Melville's version. Whereas Melville's film, not one of his best by any stretch of the imagination, was a few set pieces the director was interested in and a lot of exposition he wasn't, Corneau's version (co-written by Giovanni) feels like a more complete narrative that has its director's complete attention throughout and one that doesn't outstay its welcome at two-and-a-half hours.
The film's biggest hurdle is its usually reliable leading man. A miscast Daniel Auteuil convincingly conveys the out of shape and past it aspect of his escaped con looking for a big score to fund his getaway only to find himself set up as an informer and desperate to clear his name but, despite looking surprisingly like a shrunken Lino Ventura in a couple of sequences, lacks the iconic presence the part really needs and never really comes into his own until the last third. We learn more about the character from the way other characters describe him than we ever get out of his performance, resulting in a nominal leading man who never really lives up to his constant buildup ("In this rotten world, he has the guts to accept what he does - the supreme elegance of a lost man. Gu signs his crimes," "He has the luxury of having nothing to lose while we just dabble in felony"). While the discrepancy between what he was, what he is now, how others see him and how he sees himself is intentional, Auteuil still comes up short because you simply can't imagine him ever being the stuff of underworld legend.
Far more convincing is Eric Cantona, a credibly thuggish presence as a loyal partner in crime - he doesn't need to be a great actor because his look and his bearing does all the work for him. But then this is a film where the supporting characters are often more interesting than the anti-hero. Despite a disappointing opening scene that pales beside Paul Meurisse's showstopping entrance in Melville's film, Michel Blanc soon makes the part of the world-weary flic on Auteuil's trail his own, while Jacques Dutronc brings more depth to the stylish but noncommittal intermediary Orloff than is probably on the page. Daniel Duval's wonderfully named thief Venture Ricci and Philippe Nahon's brutal cop have less to work with but still manage to make an impression, though the best that can be said for Monica Bellucci's moll is that while she may not be particularly good she's not particularly bad enough to be a problem.
It doesn't reach the epic heights you sense it might be aspiring to but the professional violence and the setpieces are well handled, with the big heist (now taking place in a warehouse district rather than a country road) particularly effective. We also get to see the infamous water torture sequence that caused so many censorship problems in the previous adaptation this time, though the hiding the guns sequence that made such an impression on John Woo is missing this time round. It's more stylised than Melville's film, with dreamlike slow motion in some scenes and an unreal color scheme of simultaneously saturated but slightly sickly reds, greens and amber throughout looking more like a Jeunot and Caro film or the kind of unreal color of a 60s comic book than the classic noir or neo-noir look. The film only changes to natural color in the film's closing shot as the public - a few indistinct innocent bystanders notwithstanding. otherwise unseen for the entire movie - return to reclaim the scene of the crime, oblivious to the violence that took place there as they go about their everyday lives as if in a parallel world. And while, at the end of the day the film may not have much more to say than that criminals live in a different and more exaggerated world to the rest of us, if you take it as simply a decent thriller that's probably enough.
Optimum's UK PAL DVD has a good 2.35:1 widescreen transfer with English subtitles. the only extra is the trailer.
on 20 February 2011
Although the opening prison break scene promised much, this film rapidly went downhill when the gang of rival "heavies" stormed into the club run by Monica Bellucci, guns blazing and clad in square-shouldered overcoats and pork pie hats. I was immediately put in mind of the similar French gangsters satirised in Sylvain Chomet's animated film "The triplets of Belleville." From this point on, it was difficult not to look at the film as a cartoon strip re-imagined for cinema.
Whilst I am in agreement that this film was amazingly stylish, it was a shame that the script and screenplay never quite matched the attention given to the lighting of this film. The pictures certainly look beautiful even if the dominance of dark reds and greens eventually grates and the few outdoor, daylight scenes seem to be shot through a sepia lens which gives a burnished, golden quality to these elements of the film. Irritatingly, much of the story takes place at night or in semi-darkness. In the end, you find yourself yearning to see other colours - there are only about three instances throughout the film where we seen anything that is blue in colour and one of these is in a seascape painting hanging on a wall! Visually, the film is very fatiguing. All of this could be forgiven if the film was actually any good. Daniel Auteuil seems to be a great actor who frequently appears in films which somehow aren't quite as good as they should be. "36" is a good example, even if it is much better than this effort. The problem with "The Second wind" is that for nearly an hour it is difficult to really understand what is happening. We know Auteil's character has escaped from prison with the police on his trail and an inter-gang feud is about to explode with the fugitive's return. Whilst this might seem to have all the ingredients of a great film, the dialogue is pedestrian and the characters so stereo-typical that they are initially hard to distinguish. The film's pace is also painfully slow and drawn out. In the end, the outcome is definately not worth the wait.
Effectively, this film is little better than a cartoon and perhaps over reverential in it's attempt to pay hommage to an earlier era of film-making. In the past, films like "LA confidential" have plugged very much into the same sentiments and come up trumps. I really wanted this film to be something special but it is a classic case of "style over substance." The action scenes are few and far between, the dialogue often risable and the performance of Eric Cantona mumbling expressionlessly through his lines is indicative of why a return to football with the New York Cosmos is a far better prospect for him than acting. He is staggeringly poor. For a great and truly exciting French crime film, the two-part "Mesrine" has raised the bar for all cinema and sadly "The second wind" falls well short of this. Bruno Coulais' moody, atmospheric score to this film is worth the extra star but,all in all, this film felt like a huge let down.
on 9 March 2010
This is a very strongly structured film showing French cinema at its best. Good too to see a footballer who can act - much better than Vinnie Jones!
on 7 November 2009
I'll try to skip the usual and annoying (to me anyway) babble about my liking/ disliking of the film. that's what film critics do. I'm one (in german and on other platforms). here I'm a consumer and assuming that other cosumers would appreciate clear information, whether the film is presented in its original aspect ratio (in this case 1: 2,35). Yes it is 1: 2,35 in a widescreen 16:9 presentation and cristal clear without any artefacts and removeable (!!!) english subtitels. Should you choose to add the film to your collection, I'd consider this to be a worthy release.
As long as amazon is unable or unwilling to provide clearer information on their products, I'd appreciate if we could help one another with such important details!
on 10 July 2011
I can't compare to the original, as I find 60s Nouvelle Vague very overrated,but I can compare it to the great films of the 30's, both French Poetic Realism, and the Warner Bros stuff.The film was highly stylised,(and what's wrong with that) but had a great story , and a superb cast.Daniel Autieul was as good as ever, and Michel Blanc oozed class.Great all the way through, but the last half hour was amazing. I was thinking of Cagney in Public Enemy, Bogart in High Sierra, and especially Jean Gabin in La Jour se Leve.
on 20 July 2010
Daniel Auteuil adds his usual class to this film and Eric Cantona is convincing in his role as a "heavy". Monica Bellucci is as attractive as ever. The opening scenes had me holding my breath, always a good omen of what is to come, and the scenes depicting the heist are meticulously planned and executed. A good example of the gangster genre, although I was a touch disappointed with the ending. Nevertheless a film to be watched, and I'm sure, enjoyed.
on 26 April 2010
I have never seen the 1966 orginal version of this film so I cannot say how this version stands up to the orginal. Having said that this is a very good gangster film and like all the best French gangster films its about trust, betrayal and the hero or anti hero remaining true to his underworld code. The police in this film being every bit as violent and ruthless as the criminals. Watch out for Eric Cantonia as Alban a 'good gangster.'
on 19 July 2010
No plot spoilers included.
While I have not seen the earlier Jean-Pierre Melville film (1966) of the same story, it is probably safe to assume that this does not measure up to Melville (what does, these days?), but although Corneau's version is a triumph of style over content there is still a lot for fans of French gangster films to enjoy.
For a start, the film is tremendously stylish with a striking colour scheme made up of shades of red and green (in the underworld spaces, e.g. the nightclubs, bars, and safehouses), and gold (in the outside spaces such as the countryside in the aftermath of the prison break that opens the film, and in Marseilles where Gu is close to freedom), and also some very elegant (and nifty) camerawork. The costume and set designers have also outdone themselves -the film is beautiful to look at. There is also a very classy cast involved. I would watch Daniel Auteuil in anything but the cast also includes other noteworthy names such as Monica Bellucci (yes, she can act- even if she doesn't need to stretch herself much in this role), Michel Blanc, Jacques Dutronc, Gilbert Melki, Eric Cantona (yes, *that* one), and Philppe Nahon (an appearance by the latter once again indicating that something deeply unpleasant is about to happen).
The plot somewhat lets these first-rate actors down, as what could be a straight-forward tale of honour (and the lack of it) among thieves and an older generation finding themselves out of step with the cutthroat youngsters on their way up, becomes increasingly convoluted. It's nearly two and a half hours long, but at several points feels like things have been cut out to reduce the running time -it would almost have been better as a mini series rather than just one film. I should also warn you that it is unexpectedly gory in terms of its violence -you expect people to be shot in a gangster film, but there's quite a bit of overkill going on here (it is squib central). Why have I given it four stars when I have those reservations? Well partly because I can't award stars in half measures (I'd say it's a 3.5 star film) but also because I think it's worth seeing just for the visual luxuriousness on display -there aren't many films being made at the moment that are this sumptuous.