Rivals (Les Liens du Sang)
- Tom Dawson
- 27 November 2008
Based on the autobiographical book by Michel and Bruno Papet Deux Frères – Flic & Truand, Rivals is the story of two brothers in late 1970s Lyon, one a cop, the other a criminal. When the impressively moustachioed Gabriel (François Cluzet from Tell No One) is released from jail after a ten year stretch, the former pimp is still adored by his ailing father, much to the irritation of his younger police inspector sibling Francois (Guillaume Canet). The latter, however, is risking underworld retribution by seeing the beautiful wife Corinne (Clotilde Hesme) of a violent man he put behind bars.
Despite its opening car chase and its deadly dénouement, Rivals is more of a character study than a dynamic thriller. It’s little surprise that Gabriel soon slips back into his old haunts and habits, or that Michel faces a conflict of interest between his professional duties and his fraternal obligations. Filming in widescreen, writer-director Jacques Maillot knits together a familiar period aesthetic. Yet, in this traditionally masculine universe, there’s also space for several female roles: notably Gabriel’s hard-bitten ex-wife Monique (Carole Franck) and his innocent supermarket colleague (Marie Denarnaud). And there are fine performances from Cluzet and Canet, who convey the powerfully ambivalent relationship between their two characters, both of whom are desperately seeking, through their respective actions, to escape their traumatic childhood experiences.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 5 Dec; GFT, Glasgow from Fri 12 Dec.