'Life' and 'Couple': Expanding a Trilogy's Tapestry
By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 18, 2004; Page WE38
These two films complete Lucas Belvaux's "Trilogy," a collection of three narratively overlapping films seen from different points of view. (The first film, "On the Run," opened last week at the E Street Cinema, too.) All three films feature the same characters, but the perspective (as well as the genre) each time is radically altered.
"On the Run," a political thriller of sorts, is about a radical (Belvaux) named Bruno le Roux, who escapes from jail after 15 years and tries to pick up his old life of death and destruction. "An Amazing Couple" is a romantic farce in which Alain (Francois Morel), a hypochondriac who believes he's dying of some mysterious ailment, and his teacher-wife, Cecile (Ornella Muti), are led to believe the worst things about each other, until the truth emerges. And "After the Life" is a stark, almost Fassbinderlike melodrama, in which Pascal (Gilbert Melki), a cop, procures the finest heroin from the street to keep his addicted wife, Agnes (Dominique Blanc), in a state of bliss.
As in Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" or novelist Lawrence Durrell's "The Alexandria Quartet," each story is part of an ever-expanding tapestry. For instance, when Cecile hires Pascal to trail her husband, we think the cop is a goofball. But when we watch "After the Life," we realize he's a tragic figure in an intense domestic situation. And when Agnes is forced to hit the streets for her habit, she bumps into . . . Bruno from the first movie. In the throes of trying to kill the same gangster who supplies Agnes' heroin, he befriends Agnes. You can watch these films in any order. The joy is in watching the narrative intersections and changing your perceptions of the characters. Each movie casts light on the others. And after watching all three, a profound blending of the stories percolates in your head.
AFTER THE LIFE (Unrated, 124 minutes) and AN AMAZING COUPLE (Unrated, 100 minutes) --All three films contain sexual situations, obscenity, violence and drug use. In French with subtitles. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.
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