L’Homme qu’on aimait trop (In the Name of my Daughter) – André Téchiné

UnknownThe jury is still out on whether a film based on an unsolved mystery that has captivated French media for over 30 years will be appreciated by audiences outside the Hexagon. This could be why André Téchiné’s L’Homme qu’on aimait trop, is less a run-of-the-mill crime thriller and more of a Greek tragedy.  It’s a battle between mother and daughter complicated by the daughter’s lover.  Allegedly motivated by financial gain, he is accused of her murder by her family although no body has ever been discovered.  It’s an intriguing tale and one Téchiné directs with his usual talent for translating complicated stories to the big screen, but the film is hamstrung by its grounding in real events. It lacks the creative twists and turns needed to produce a taut thriller or the complex characters necessary for an engaging psychological drama .

Most of the film is in flashback and revolves around the background to Renée Le Roux’s 30 year battle to bring to justice Maurice Agnelet, the man she suspects of  murdering her daughter Agnès.  Back in the 1970s, Le Roux (Catherine Deneuve) was head of the Palais de la Mediterranée, a Riviera-based casino which was at the centre of a turf war with the local mafia. Her daughter Agnès ( Adèle Haenel)  has returned to France from Africa after a failed marriage and gradually falls in love with her mother’s business adviser, Agnelet (Guillaume Canet).  Upset at being passed over for one of the top jobs at the casino, Agnelet persuades Agnes to vote against her mother at a crucial business meeting allowing local mafia boss Fratoni (Jean Corso) to take over the casino.  In late November 1977, Agnès disappears without a trace and the Le Roux family points the finger of blame at Maurice.
Téchiné has variously described L’Homme qu’on aimait trop as a ‘war film’ with the focus on the conflict between the three main characters and a ‘fairy tale’ complete with wicked queen, princess and handsome suitor. Neither description really hits the spot. It is also the story of a mother’s love for her child,  a study of a gradual descent into madness and the tale of a man trying to prove his innocence. Téchiné doesn’t take sides recognising there’s nothing black and white about any of the characters.
Agnelet is a cold -hearted womaniser seeking a place at a level in society where he does not naturally belong, but he is straight with Agnès about his feelings and he has a warm, loving relationship with his young son.  Renée is a hard-headed businesswoman who is reluctant to give up her status at the prestigious casino, but she is genuinely confused by her daughter’s betrayal and spends the latter half of her life, and all her personal wealth, trying to unravel the mystery of her disappearance.  And although Agnès is fragile and easily-led, she willingly goes along with Agnelet’s plan in exchange for getting her hands on a large sum of money.
This is Deneuve’s seventh collaboration with Téchiné and she gives a solid, if somewhat flat, performance as Renée.  Haenel does her best with the limited role and stilted dialogue she has been handed. But Canet shines and is highly convincing as the caddish Agnelet effortlessly suggesting the malice and naked ambition which lie just beneath his easy going charm.

 

 

DIRECTOR’S BIO – ANDRE TECHINEUnknown-2

 
 2014 L’homme qu’on aimait trop -In the name of my daughter
 2011 Impardonnables – Unforgivable
 2009 La fille du RER – The girl on the train
 2007 Les témoins – The  Witnesses
 2004 Les temps qui changent – Changing Times
 2003 Les égarés – Strayed
 2001 Loin – Far
 1998 Alice et Martin – Alice and Martin 
 1996 Les voleurs – Thieves 
 1994 Les roseaux sauvages – Wild Reeds
 1993 Ma saison préférée – My Favourite Season
 1991 J’embrasse pas – I don’t kiss
 1987 Les innocents – The Innocents
 1986 Le lieu du crime – Scene of the Crime
 1985 Rendez-vous 
 1981 Hôtel des Amériques – Hotel America
 1979 Les soeurs Brontë – The Bronte sisters
 1976 Barocco 
 1975 Souvenirs d’en France – French Provincial
 1969 Pauline s’en va – Pauline is leaving
Most recent films by André Téchiné :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *