Mesrine: Long, Shallow, and French
Let’s begin with an understanding: This film has two parts (Mesrine: Killer Instinct, which is roughly two hours, and Mesrine: Public Enemy #1, which is also roughly two hours) that cannot be separated. Meaning, it is essentially one film with an intermission. True, you can watch the first part without watching the second, which is the same as walking out on a film that does not agree with you, but you cannot begin the second part without seeing the first—that is the same as walking into the middle of a movie. Unless you know the real-life story of Mesrine, his spectacular rise to fame and fall into the eternity of French myth, the second part of this film will be bewildering.
So, what is Mesrine about? One thing: a French criminal who fucked hot women. The criminal is played by Vincent Cassel (a man who is married to Monica Bellucci), and his fine women are in this order: Elena Anaya, Cécile de France, and Ludivine Sagnier. The hottest on this hot list is, of course, the last one, Sagnier, the star of François Ozon’s Swimming Pool. Her role in Mesrine, however, is purely sexual. She is, how can I put this indelicately? Really, to be honest, she is the come bucket for a criminal. She offers not open arms, but open legs. That is her whole role. In this film, you will see none of the mystery that made Sagnier something wonderful and erotic in Swimming Pool. Indeed, all of the characters in this film are very limited. No color or texture is added to a character’s single mode of being: criminal, sexual, corrupt, parental, psycho, and so and on. Mesrine is long and shallow.