A Decent Man: A chilling analysis of society
by Fabien Lemercier
- Emmanuel Finkiel's latest film, the no-holds-barred A Decent Man, starring Nicolas Duvauchelle, hits French cinemas with Bac Films
Today sees the theatrical release of Emmanuel Finkiel's fourth feature film, A Decent Man [+see also:
film profile]. This movie sees him continuing the journey he started with his film Voyages (winner of the 1999 Louis Delluc Prize and the 2000 César Award for Best First Film), and continued with Nulle part terre promise [+see also:
film profile] (selected in competition at Locarno in 2008 and a Jean Vigo Prize winner) and his 2012 documentary Je suis. Winning the Best Actor and Directing Awards at the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival, the film has left French critics speechless and finds itself as part of the upcoming New York Rendez-Vous with French Cinema line-up (3-16 March).
Looking uncomfortably deep into the theme of the “relationship between you, the image of yourself and the images others have of you”, Finkiel paints an uncompromising picture of humanity through this tale, which was inspired by the misfortune that a close friend suffered. “One of my friends, Ahmed, disappeared without a trace for about six months. When he appeared again, he told me what had happened to him. A man had been severely beaten at the bottom of one of the buildings on the council estate where Ahmed lived, and this guy had heard someone say the name Ahmed while he was being beaten up. The police arrested everyone named Ahmed on his council estate, and the guy was relentless in saying he recognised my friend, even though the inquiry slowly cleared him of any guilt. Right away, this fellow intrigued me. Who could he have been? Why was he so relentless? The enigma that this ‘poor chap’ represented was what inspired me to make this film. A poor fellow, whom I called Eddie, became not only the main character, but the person through whose eyes we would see this story.”
Played by the extraordinary Nicolas Duvauchelle, “Eddie is a complex character who is contradictory and flawed. We don't do anything to try and fix or hide these flaws and contradictions. He forces viewers to look at themselves in a less-than-desirable light; his weaknesses, cowardice and questionable hopes are not completely unlike our own - those that we rightly try to hide,” the director explains.
By using such a character, A Decent Man plays with the boundaries of the audience’s empathy, marking it out as a startling, cinéma-vérité-style mirror that analyses social pressures. Also starring Mélanie Thierry and Driss Ramdi, the film, which was produced by Thelma Films, is being distributed in 43 cinemas by Bac Films, starting this Wednesday; Bac is also responsible for its international sales.
(Translated from French)