Paris. 1830. In the heart of the town, Vidocq, a famous detective, disappeared as he fights the Alchemist, an assassin that he has been pursuing for a few months. His young biographer, ...
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Paris. 1830. In the heart of the town, Vidocq, a famous detective, disappeared as he fights the Alchemist, an assassin that he has been pursuing for a few months. His young biographer, Etienne Boisset, decides to have revenge on Vidocq's death and takes the investigation on... Written by
Vidocq is directed by the singular Pitof, who has worked with Jean-Pierre Jeunet on such films as Alien Resurrection and the superior City of Lost Children. Depardieu stars (his 116th film!) in a striking tale of 1830's supernatural murder, set in Paris which would make an excellent double bill with From Hell. Vidocq was a real historical personage, and a genuine founder of modern French criminology - though this is a highly fictionalised part of a part of his life, inspired by the 'orrible crimes of contemporary penny dreadfuls and the likes of Spring Heeled Jack, than by any real facts. The film is shot entirely on high quality video and so visually it is completely different to a regular film. The sometimes disconcerting loss of depth of field brought by the format is compensated for by an immediacy and high impact in close ups, as well as an amazing (and presumably inexpensive), flexibility in shots and special effects. Watching it I was reminded of what a BBC costume drama would be like on acid, and could also see indebtedness to Phantom of the Opera, Sherlock Holmes and perhaps Blade... All in all I thought this the best French fantasy I have seen since Brotherhood of the Wolf - admittedly a small field, especially if one draws a veil over the dismal Belphagor: Phantom of the Louvre. Worth seeing if you like your fantasy dark, Gallic and hectic. A notable credit in the art department on Vidocq is Marc Caro (another Jeunet collaborator), who creates a convincing and claustrophobic world of political upheaval, crowded streets, menacing glass works and a range of grotesques. Some great scenes, EG the two men set on fire by lightning bolts set to the elegant music of Vivaldi, while the three or four main fight scenes are handled excitingly. Vidocq is such a strong character that this film cries out for a sequel. But Pitof is now apparently working on Catwoman, and going by this, his is a stylish, if rather in your face, talent. The HK DVD is excellent, although there are occasional glitches in the subtitles.
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