The Serpent (3 stars)

The Serpent

(15) 117min (Metrodome DVD retail)


Photographer Vincent’s (Yvan Attal) marriage is in its death throes; his wife wants to relocate with his two young children from France to Munich without him. In the midst of all this, a ghost from his past, former classmate Joseph Plender (the convincingly psychotic Clovis Cornillac) shows up, a cheery, benevolent blast from the past. Of course, Plender is not all that he seems: he is in fact a private detective with a neat sideline in blackmail (assisted by Sofia, aka Bond girl in waiting Olga Kurylenko) but his next target is more about revenge than it is about money.

Director Eric Barbier, ratchets up the tension, throws in a few welcome curve balls but resists being too clever-clever. His characters are troubled and for the most part believable, succumbing to the draw of wholly human foibles: jealousy, pride, lust, and vengeance.

The climactic set up arrives prematurely so we are left to anticipate the finale a little early but there are sufficient stylish, slick (this looks like a car ad at times) set pieces to slither this reptile towards a satisfying conclusion. Minimal extras.

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