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aka - Choice Of Arms
France 1981
Directed by
Alain Corneau
135 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Choix Des Armes, Le

As a gangster film, Le Choix Des Armes stacks up with any Hollywood equivalent but has a quality rarely seen therewith, strong characterisation and interpersonal dynamics.

Written by Corneau and one-time film critic. Michel Grisolia, the well-structured script pits old school crims, represented by Yves Montand’s Noël, who has legitimized himself as a racing horse breeder, with new style punks with the drugs and guns, represented by Gérard Depardieu’s Mickey. These in turn are matched by the old and new school of cop, Michel Galabru’s slowly, slowly catchee monkey, Bonnardot, and his eager-beaver young associate (Gérard Lanvin). Although there are sections, particularly when Noël goes looking for Mickey that unnecessarily prolong the running time, for the most part it is an intense ride thanks largely to Depardieu’s scenery-chewing performance as the volatile Mickey which is well balanced by Montand's world-weary impassivity. The film humanizes both characters, Noël for his love for his beautiful wife (Catherine Deneuve) and Mickey with his tenderness for his daughter. The script combines elements of Greek tragedy with social realism in what is one of the best contributions to the French crime genre since the films of Jean-Pierre Melville.

FYI: Depardieu and Deneuve had shared the screen the previous year in a very differnt kind of pairing, Truffaut's Le Dernier Métro.






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