Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Crimson Rivers; or Les rivières pourpres (2000) - ★★★½

Director: Matthieu Kassovitz
Writers: Jean Christoph-Grange (book and screenplay)
Stars: Jean Reno, Vincent Cassel, Nadia Fares

The Crimson Rivers is a French thriller with an intriguing story and a disturbing mystery at its core. To my surprise it was directed by Mathiew Kassovits, the male lead of the famous french film Amelie. It was engrossing and a joy to watch. Unfortunately, the frankly unconvincing and ridiculous ending almost ruined the film for me.

Murder detective commissioner Pierre Niemans (Jean Reno) is called to Gueron, a mysterious and prestigious university with virtually incestuous scientists that are succeeded by their "elite-blooded" children as teachers and professors. He is there to investigate the death of one of the professors, whose corps was found on a steep mountain side after some five hours of cruel torture, including amputation of the hands and removal of the eyes. In order to solve the investigation, Pierre must work with  Inspector Max Kerkerian (Vincent Cassel) to dig up information from various different locations, such as in glaciers and on campus. As both investigations continue, the mystery is finally solved in an ending which did not satisfy me enough as to call it a great movie.

If you liked the film 'Seven' then you will like Crimson Rivers. It's a dark thriller, which is both entertaining and intelligent. Jean Reno was great as Pierre, who can keep calm with almost any situation, except when it comes to dogs. His partner Max provides the comic relief of the film as he occasionally bumbles around and makes a nuisance of himself. Together they had great chemistry, which made the film enjoyable.

The mystery itself became more and more disturbing as the film went on, which made it so much more interesting. As it delved further into genetic deformities and the incestuous actions of the faculty at the university, I became more invested in solving the mystery myself. I only half solved the mystery, and didn't fully understand the other half. There was little explanation during the climax of the film, which included a terrible CGI avalanche that took away the realism of the film. It truly did wreck what could have been a great movie.

All in all I was thoroughly entertained up until the disappointing ending. If you're a fan of thrillers and mysteries, then this is a film you may like.

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