Review: Gallic Thriller THE SERPENT
The Serpent is a French film from director Eric Barbier starring Yvan Attal, Clovis Cornillac and Quantum of Solace‘s Bond girl Olga Kurylenko. Vincent (Attal) is a photographer who is going through a messy divorce, his life is slowly heading south and even his kids are turning against him following an unfortunate incident with the family pet. Things seem to look up when he is hired to photograph the beautiful Sofia (Kurylenko) for a modelling agency. Life never goes right for Vincent and he’s soon arrested for assaulting her. After resolving the “misunderstanding” events take a further spiral downwards when Vincent discovers a dead body in the trunk of his car. Then he meets an old school friend, Plender (Cornillac), who just happens to be the man behind a series of schemes to blackmail and destroy the lives of his victims. To make matters worse, Vincent is the next person on his list of destruction.
The Serpent is based on a novel by Ted Lewis, the English author of Get Carter. It’s a slick film that will probably be remade or readapted by Hollywood in the near future. It’s the type of film that Michael Douglas or Harrison Ford would have made in their 1990s heyday and that’s not a bad thing. In fact it’s also similar in tone to their recent efforts The Sentinel and Firewall. The Serpent is slickly made and filmed in a Hollywoodized fashion, filled with every cliché that the genre has to offer. Again that’s not a criticism, films like The Serpent thrive on living up to these conventions and they help to make the film an enjoyable and entertaining diversion.
The cast do well with the material, Yvan Attal is very good as the everyman who slowly watches his life unravel, the only problem with his performance is that he doesn’t quite pull off the lighter moments at the beginning of the film. The film really belongs to Clovis Cornillac who offers a brooding and menacing performance as the evil Pendler (the title character in Lewis’ book).
A generic and entertaining thriller, The Serpent ticks all the right boxes in the thriller genre. Slick and stylish, this French thriller is a must for those who like to sit on the edge of their seat.
The Serpent comes with a healthy smattering of extras, in fact better than a lot of English language films. There’s a thrilling trailer and some good interviews with director Barbier, producer Eric Jehelmann and star Olga Kurylenko. It’s a shame that there’s nothing from leads Attall and Cornillac.