Saturday, 10 September 2011

LE DEUXIEME SOUFFLE/The Second Wind (2007)

Here's a real surprise, a remake of a classic Jean-Pierre Melville gangster film that can stand honourable comparison with the original. The French have always shown a flair for this type of film and there are many fine examples of what might be termed Gallic noir - and Jean-Pierre Melville was indisputably its greatest exponent. Melville made his version of LE DEUXIEME SOUFFLE in 1966. Based on the novel "Un Reglement de comples" by Jose Giovanni, it starred the great Lino Ventura and was released in England as THE SECOND BREATH. I have a real soft spot for the film as not only was it the first Melville film I saw I also worked on the English publicity for it. Alain Corneau's version goes back to the original novel rather than Melville's script but both films are faithful to their source material so are very similar. Corneau has resisted any temptation to update the story and it remains firmly set in the 1960's with Denis Auteuil an excellent choice to replace Ventura as the ageing gangster Gu Minda who breaks out of jail to find that the criminal underworld has changed and there is no honour among thieves of the new generation. Auteuil (who impresses me more with every film I see) perfectly captures the growing realisation of Minda that the rules by which he lived no longer apply. The supporting cast are uniformly excellent : Monica Bellucci goes blonde to play Minda's girlfriend Manouche and ex-footballer Eric Cantona is impressive as the loyal Alban. Michel Blanc and Jacques Dutronic also contribute excellent performances. THE SECOND WIND proves that the French have not forgotten how to make classic gangster films. I still have a preference for the b/w original but this is very good indeed. Rating ****

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

I haven't seen the original Melville film so I don't want to see the remake before that happens. However, it's nice to know the remake is there for me and worth watching when the time comes.