This drama is based on real events which took place on the Cote d’Azur during the late seventies. The aftermath of events actually took over 40 years to conclude.
The film stars Catherine Deneuve playing the owner of a Nice casino, Renee Le Roux. Like the majority of casino’s, hers is in danger of being taken over and used by criminals. Renee fights to prevent this from happening. During her struggle, she manages in time to realise, she is relying a bit too much on advice of a lawyer.
Renee has a difficult relationship with her daughter, who has come home to divorce her husband and needs money to start a shop. Agnes’ demand for her inheritance is refused by Renee, as all the money and shares are locked up in the casino.
The power struggle and problematic relationship between mother and daughter give lawyer and criminals their chance to start interfering, with the usual deadly consequences.
One would expect this true story, which the real Renee le Roux turned into an autobiography, to have made a perfect screenplay and film. Here is at least one love triangle, various problematic relationships, power struggles, fights over a fortune, mysterious events, court cases, and more – all against the splendid background of the Cote d’Azur, with millionaires’ yachts bobbing on the sea. What more do screenplay writers and directors need?
But though the film does have some tense moments, the audience is never on tenterhooks. Why the relationship between mother and daughter is so fraught, is hardly explained. How the lawyer manages to charm first mother, than daughter – not to say wife and mistresses – is difficult to believe. That he must have been a playboy remains unconvincing with just one other mistress showing up in this film. Daughter Agnes is played such, that I would personally have throttled her ages before she actually runs off, disappears, vanishes. The criminals seem only to hand out money with hardly any strings attached, though the capo certainly likes horses, dogs, family. The hold over the lawyer and others is only hinted at.
However, this does not make this nearly two-hour-long film a cringe, just don’t expect a thriller. Catherine Deneuve is always worth watching. The second half puts some edge into the film.
But the most shocking part actually comes, when the film is over and the audience is still sitting dazed in the room, and begins reading the paragraphs which roll across the screen just before the credits start.
At least, this is what the audience I’d joined, agreed upon when everybody had recovered from those last shocks and were filing out.
Film: “l’homme qu’on aimait trop’, drama, original French spoken, duration between 1.30 to 1.50 minutes.
Main actors : Catherine Deneuve, Guilliaume Canet, Adele Haenel
Director: Andre Techine
Screenwriters: Andre Techine, Jean-Charles Le Roux, Cedric Anger, based on Renee and Jean-Charles le Roux’ book “Une Femme face a la mafia” (French publications available 2nd hand through Amazon and other websites)
Currently shown in: cinema’s throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, France