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A man of tremendous financial skills whose most recent deeds have put the French police in a state of mass confusion Anthony Zimmer is now also being wanted by the White Barons – a powerful organization of Russian tycoons whose business spreads all over Europe. Unsure about his identity as well as his physical appearance the French police have designed a slick plan where Anthony Zimmer must fall for a woman he once loved.
Filled with plenty of flashy cut-and-zoom camera moves creating the impression that this is a film where Jerry Bruckheimer had plenty to say Anthony Zimmer comes amidst a sea of recent spy thrillers that were produced in Europe. Teaming Yvan Attal (My Wife is an Actress) with Sophie Marceau (La Boum) this modest French production tiptoes somewhere on the verge between being a sugary melodrama and an action-packed nailbiter with plenty of unexpected twists. Unlike the other much talked about French spy affair, Frederic Schoendorffer's Agents Secrets (2004), where real-life couple Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel spent ninety minutes proving how enough cash can spur some truly ridiculous cinema Anthony Zimmer manages to pull quite a few intelligent stunts with an admirable finesse.
Like so many other recent French thrillers however that aspired to be seen as convincing Hollywood product (36 Quai des Orfevres) Anthony Zimmer goes a step further from the typical for European cinema focus on character development. The film whose technical qualities are indeed impressive falls a bit short of transforming the two protagonists, Chiara and Francois Taillandier, into more than your average ill-fated couple trapped in a sea of unfortunate scenarios where the farther away they run the more miserable their lives become.
But…here's the big surprise, just when I thought that aside from the stunning vistas of the French Riviera and sunny beaches of Ibiza there is nothing else in Anthony Zimmer worth seeing director Jerome Salle managed to convince me that he had plenty of tricks in his bag worthy of recognition. All of a sudden the film became intriguingly dark and veered off in a direction that aroused my attention. Sophie Marceau reassured my belief that age has only further enhanced her irrefutable charm and she is at a point in her career where she feels just as comfortable as an actor as she is now convincing as a director (Parlez-Moi d'Amour).
Not too long ago I wrote an article for another European thriller which I reviewed for DVDTALK, Paolo Sorrentino's magnificent Le Consequenze dell'ammore (2004), where I noted how a seemingly simple story was transformed into a most impressive dark tale about crime and those who commit it. The film awed me so much with its intelligent acting that I am now eagerly anticipating to see the Italian director's latest L'Amico di Famiglia (2006) which is set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this summer.
Anthony Zimmer is far from being the elegant and more importantly stylish dark affair Le Consequenze dell'ammore was. However, there are a few scenes in Jerome Salle's film that truly had me guessing. Couple that with the always pleasing acting of Yvan Attal (his other very convincing Cannes-screened spy thriller, Les Patriotes, about a Frenchman who returns back to Israel to join Mossad is not to be missed) and you have quite a picture that should please those searching to enjoy a nuanced European thriller.
See the trailer:
In 2006 Anthony Zimmer was nominated for a Cesar Award for Best First Work (Meilleure première film) – Jerome Salle.
How Does the DVD Look?
Anthony Zimmer is yet to receive a stateside distribution and therefore the only way to see this film is to import the recently released R3 DVD. However, instead of presenting it in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 the R3 distribs have chosen to crop the film to 1.78:1 and enhanced it for widescreen TV's.
The first thing to note is that Anthony Zimmer has been properly flagged and therefore much of the issues we encounter with European films being released in NTSC territories is that…they are not present. Colors appear largely lush, contrast is quite impressive, and the print hardly reveals any damage that would upset those willing to see the film. I do get the idea however that R3 companies tend to overcompress European film prints when they release them on DVD. I am going to guess here that Anthony Zimmer has been indeed sourced from a PAL master, then downconverted to account for the format discrepancy, and filtered heavily by the company producer. As a result occasionally the image becomes a bit too edgy for my taste (something I noticed with quite a few R3 releases) revealing edge-enhancement as well at areas where those with more sensitive home set-ups will most definitely notice a difference. I don't think that this would be too much of an issue for those still using regular tubes but it is nevertheless something that you might want to take into consideration. Aside from that the R3 release of Anthony Zimmer is more than manageable.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 French track and optional (rather large) Chinese and English subtitles the sound quality of this release is mostly fine. Shootings, explosions, and subtle dialogs are well-mixed leaving very little for me to complain. Everything considered I believe that you will be most satisfied with the audio treatment.
There is not a single bit of supplemental material to be found on this release.
For the genre that Anthony Zimmer represents and the good story it reveals I am going to recommend this film assuming that many will enjoy it. Aging beauty Sophie Marceau should be enough of a reason for many (consider the author of this review as well) to see this film and I am certain at the end you will not be disappointed. BUT...because the film has been cropped from its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 at the end all that I could do for this release is recommend that you RENT IT.