The Last Diamond (3 stars)

The Last Diamond

Old-school heist flick starring Yvan Attal and Bérénice Bejo

A heist picture that’s as old-school as they come, even if it’s in no danger of bowling you over with its charm, The Last Diamond marks French filmmaker Éric Barbier’s return after 2006’s dark and knotty thriller The Serpent. Co-written with Marie Eynard and Trân-Minh Nam, it eschews the spectacular set-pieces of the Ocean’s films and Now You See Me – along with their smug swagger – to trade instead in retro glamour, perfectly paced and elegantly relayed skulduggery, and To Catch a Thief-style (age-inappropriate) romance.

While its cheeky bookends suggest an OSS-style caper more suited to shameless smoothie Jean Dujardin, what unfolds is a rather more classy affair. Stylishly shot by Denis Rouden (36, Le Petit Nicolas), it cuts near-immediately to the chase as we meet Simon (Israeli actor Yvan Attal) a Parisian thief recently released from prison who’s quickly drawn back into the game when his partner Albert (Jean-François Stévenin) allies himself with a group of more dangerous criminals led by Scylla (Antoine Basler) for a diamond heist in Antwerp.

The stone in question is a beaut – a 137-carat, €40m prize that’s nevertheless been plagued by misfortune. It’s soon to be in the custody of Julia (Bérénice Bejo), an auction organiser arranging its sale at a grand hotel, a responsibility she has inherited from her recently deceased mother.

The Last Diamond is certainly no Rififi, playing it a little too safe and hastening through its final twists, but the cons themselves are executed with confidence by the filmmakers and crooks alike. There’s a credibility to the performances which transcends the superficial script: the emotionally honest, always impressive Bejo (Oscar-nominated for The Artist, Cannes Best Actress winner for The Past) is beautifully understated in her grief and deserving of a more substantial role, while Attal as our man-of-few-words protagonist intrigues if never quite seduces. The result is evenly entertaining, although hardly essential viewing.

Selected release from Fri 22 Jan.

The Last Diamond

  • 3 stars
  • 2014
  • 1h 48min
  • Directed by: Eric Barbier
  • Written by: Eric Barbier, Marie Eynard
  • Cast: Yvan Attal, Bérénice Bejo, Jean-François Stévenin

Ex-con Simon (Attal) agrees to carry out the biggest job of his life: to steal a majestic diamond being auctioned by its owners. Old-school heist flick, playing it a little too safe; Bejo is beautifully understated and deserves a bigger role, while Attal intrigues but never quite seduces. Entertaining but inessential.