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Marcorelle can't resist the charm of a darker, cynical, sexier and mesmerizing Irène Jacob.
Jean Pierre Leaud is Francois Marcorelle, a judge with a guilty complex. That's a funny begin, but this good movie goes far beyond the premise by amplifying the scale of the conflict to a wider perspective at higher levels. L'Affaire Marcorelle is basically a story about this poor guy who must manage how to get outside a trap: One night alone at the restaurant he meets a beautiful waitress, Agneska (Irène Jacob) and has a crush on her, Marcorelle kindly offers the girl to take her at her home where he later realizes she actually is a polish prostitute, then a confuse incident takes place and ends with a guy dead in the floor. So that's how he gets involved with the mafia trading with women in an intricate case which could demolish his reputation. This unfolds the plot, but the scheme is also a clever satire to politics, specially to foreign affairs in the old continent. Since the first time, Marcorelle decides to help the young illegal woman, and at the same time he must deal with his own family and take distance from a judicial bureaucrat with suspicious attitude (Mathieu Amalric) who doesn't even try to hide his prejudice on Marcorelle. As the antecedents get more and more complicated, the judge soon feels overwhelmed by the circumstances.
Irène Jacob plays the most active part and she is at her best, and I mean even better than she used to do in these wonderful Kieslowski's movies where she was a little bit instrumentalized by the director. The polish filmmaker was a genius and Irene was his muse, so that's why she had a very limited register and chance to portray, by example, an obscure or amoral character. At "Marcorelle", nevertheless, Irène appears in a much more complex and rather cynical role, she had to replace her usual candid kindness with a tougher background and she did it flawless in that way. Agneska is a sexy villainess, an extortionist without remorse but she indeed has a cause; she's full of resentment because she is one of these "second class" Europeans. As the main and wealthy countries of the European Community like France- are proud on their arrogant, ambivalent speech about tolerance and integration, in the meanwhile most of the citizens from the eastern nations are devastated by misery and their children doomed to be criminals or hookers, but these supposed-progressist richest nations lock their doors in their faces. The hopeless faces of the illegal immigrants looking for a opportunity. That's a very serious matter but carefully featured in this movie, without falling into the cheap politically incorrect stuff. I do already think this has a lot to do with some kind of guilty consciousness about the high contrast between the two sides of contemporary European society.
The film essentially works as a light thriller-comedy with a critic, reflexive shade and even a dark sense of humor, mostly based in the solid performance of the cast and this is the brightest point. The storyline could have been better focused and slightly more dynamic, but works fine at its way and the result is fairly well done. This movie really deserved to have a much better distribution worldwide or at least to be released to the mainstream of home video market. It's a clever movie with sympathetic, charismatic characters and quite an interesting content.
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