Dir: Lucas Belvaux
Star: Yvan Attal, Anne Consigny, Andre Marcon, Francoise Fabian

Based on the real kidnapping of an industrialist in 1978, Attal stars as Stanislas Graff, a wealthy and successful businessman, whose life is destroyed when kidnappers abduct him from a Parisian street. It's clear they are focused and determined to succeed, severing Graff's little finger and sending it to the police as proof and demanding a ransom of fifty million Euros - his company refuses to pay up, but agrees to loan his family some of the money. As the investigation proceeds, the skeletons in Graff's closet are also revealed to the public: his fondness for high-stakes poker suggests a motive for the kidnapping, and his numerous affairs are exposed, diving the family against itself, to the point that his dog is about the only living thing who still seems to like him. Even if Stanislav survives the ordeal with his remaining digits intact, he's going to have an awful lot of explaining to do, both to the authorities and his relatives.

This is let down by an underwhelming ending which, if likely true to the facts, shows the problem with films based on true stories. For this is entirely unsatisfactory on a cinematic level, closing the book just when it seems it might be getting interesting again. That's a shame, as the kidnapping and subsequent chess-game between the perpetrators and the cops is well-staged, with both groups behaving smartly; the ransom handover, with multiple cutouts to prevent the authorities being able to follow it, is particularly well-handled. Attal makes for a relatively sympathetic figure; sure, he cheats on his wife and gambles. But, hey, he's French and rich: whaddya expect? He's not actually a bad person, and you can't help feel some pity, as his life is relentlessly picked apart. Getting out alive may not be the best idea. Yet, the film doesn't build, instead sputtering out in a way that suggests the director is much more interested in the journey than the destination, leaving the audience by the side of the road with about 20 minutes left.

[December 2015]

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