La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai le Coeur – Cédric Anger

011204.jpg-r_160_240-b_1_D6D6D6-f_jpg-q_x-xxyxxFor his third outing as director, former Cahiers du Cinema journalist Cédric Anger has gone back to May 1978 and the true story of Alain Lamare, a gendarme, who went on an ten-month killing spree causing widespread fear among young women in the Oise region of France.  Anger’s La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai le Coeur is a chilling account of these murders which, although meticulously portrayed, offers no real explanation for Lamare’s lunacy.  While the director’s attention to detail is admirable – and Guillaume Canet’s performance as the killer is spectacular – the experience is oddly unsatisfying.

 Alain Lamare has become Franck (Canet) a young gendarme who lives a solitary life in the northern French region of Picardy. He has no friends and little contact with the outside world apart from his work – so far so good for your average, everyday serial killer.  Franck also leads a double life.  He is a dedicated, diligent gendarme by day who turns into a cold-blooded killer out-of-hours, tracking young girls and shooting them dead for no apparent reason.  Each killing is followed by a spot of masochism including self-flagellation or sitting immersed in an ice-filled bath tub.  Thus purged, it’s only a matter of time before Franck feels the need to kill again.
La Prochaine Fois Je Viserai le Coeur takes a highly clinical approach to its subject.  Franck has needs, he kidnaps, he kills, he purges and then he kills again. In the absence of any attempt to probe into the psyche of the murderer, the audience can only recoil in horror at this monster who choses his victims at random.  There are vague hints at possible reasons for Franck’s insanity.  He is seen trawling through an area where male prostutues ply their trade, he is reading Lobsang Rampa’s The Third Eye, a book espousing New Age ideas about rebirth, the occult, etc and the film opens with a lingering shot of a David Hamilton poster of a half-naked young woman.  But none of these leads go anywhere and Franck is apparently neither particularly intelligent or cunning and evades capture more through police ineptitude than anything else.
While the film resolutely avoids delving into the heart of the drama and keeps an emotional distance from the main protagonist,  it has brought out the best in Canet who played a similarly detestable character in his last film, André Téchiné’s. L’Homme qu’on aimait trop.  With a face as immobile as an Easter Island moai, it’s definitely all in the eyes.  And Canet is genuinely frightening as the schizophrenic Franck whose barely contained anger seems likely spin out of control at a moment’s notice.  Canet and Anger worked together on the Téchiné film, again based on real events.  It would be interesting to see what the two could do with a scenario based on fiction rather than one drawn from the pages of a newspaper.

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