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Review: Vincent Cassel in Mesrine

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Mark Kermode | 10:30 UK time, Monday, 10 August 2009

In a new brace of movies about the life and times of notorious celebrity gangster Jacques Mesrine, Vincent Cassel has reached the apex of a formidable career that began with the white hot La Haine, includes extraordinary work in films as varied as Elisabeth and Irreversible and even a couple of outings in Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's 12 and 13. He is without doubt one of the finest actors working today and yes, he is French.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Saw Mesrine at the weekend. Quite enjoyed it, much better than the disappointing Public Enemies. Good performance by Cassel. He presented a much more complex, interesting and flawed gangster, rather than Johnny Depp's smooth John Dillinger. The escape and return scenes at the prison were very suspenseful and had me on the edge of my seat. Overall, the film was interesting and fast paced, 2 hours just flew by. While certainly not perfect, it was very entertaining.

  • Comment number 2.

    Dear Dr Mark,
    I have to agree with all you said about Vincent Cassel's acting ability, but it just made me wonder why there aren't more French, or for that matter other mainland European actors, recognised for their talent?
    There are only a handful that I know of that have managed to cross over into the 'mainstream' of film making.

    Is this because when they move out of their respective country's output, they loose a style of performance unique to their homeland? And I don't mean just through the use of a different language.

    Or is it because subconsciously we may find it hard to accept them, creating a stumbling block that they have to over come?

  • Comment number 3.

    Mesrine was great, even better thinking back on it, and I'm disappointed cinemas aren't showing both films in one, as some did with Che. It worked well for Che, and I'm sure it would for Mesrine. Vincent Cassel was superb, as was Cecile De France and Gerard Depardieu. And everyone else t'be honest. It's also quite true what y'say about it being Cassel's film moreso than that of the director. I thought about this during it; how much it resembled say, Paul Greengrass and wasn't put together in any way that was startlingly new. That said, this doesn't mean it was badly put together, I thought it was great.

    The actor/director balance also comes into play with something like Half Nelson, in which Ryan Gosling was superb, and the directors clearly know this, but the rest of the film doesn't quite equal him.

    On another topic, Mark's said a few things in Antichrist - which impressed me - make him think "Oh, LARS!" and I'm intrigued as t'what they are.

  • Comment number 4.

    Dear Mark,

    I outright challenge you to find fault with Audrey Tautou's performance in Coco Before Chanel.

  • Comment number 5.

    Oh, it's back.

    I kept getting the bloody testcard. At least the web developers have a sense of humour.

  • Comment number 6.

    I totally agree with you, Cassel has been one of my favorite actors for a while now. I also see very clearly this thing you speak of in his performances where you can almost see two characters illuminating form his person in Irreversible too, one of which being the characterization of vengeance, retaliation and vehement human nature, and the other a character which i cant say i like too much... Which is in this case definitely a good thing. To say that was his best performance in my opinion would be biased as it is by far my favorite film he has appeared in, yet i am very much looking forward to Mesrine.

  • Comment number 7.

    Have to agree with you- great film and wonderful performance from Cassel to make a manifestly nont nice man so messmerising. Nice as well to see action scenes done old school- less shaky cam! They should let the Director loose on Bond 23!

    Probably the only slight downside to the film was the way it skipped years at a time, but I figure they had a lot to get through. Really looking forward to part 2.

  • Comment number 8.

    Cassel in Mesrine is one of those dominant performances that recalls Pacino in his prime. I will also be looking out for Cecile De France in the future who smoulders onto the screen as his partner in crime.

  • Comment number 9.

    very good really enjoyed the scenes in canada, cassel was excellent one of my fav actors his uncle seymour is great too

    looking forward to part deux

  • Comment number 10.

    agree and disagree... cassel is awesome, a great actor and presence, but found mesrine part one a really, really bad film. lauged out loud when he first appeared on screen in some kinda chucklebrothers wig and glasses, and that cinematic 60s split screen was so, so tacky and obvious... then the prison break out scene - straight outta the a-team or dukes of hazard... if this was a british film it would have been slammed...

  • Comment number 11.

    Vive le Kermode!


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