This fluid, visionally arresting romp is steadily led by Daniel Auteuil (Cache, 36) as Lagardere the young swordsman who is hailed by Count Gonzague (Fabrice Luchini) to knock off his cousin Duc de Nevers (Vincent Perez) so the count can inherit a fortune, but this will only happen if the Duke doesn’t have any children. Instead Lagardere warns Nevers, the two men form a bond, and head off to Paris. There Nevers has a child waiting for him as a result of a one night stand. But soon Gonzague catches up with them and when the Duke is killed off Lagardere is left to raise the baby girl who he teaches how to fend for herself and slowly falls in love with in later life, at the same time while plotting his revenge.
Le Bossu has a lavish feel, with a striking use of langrage, both very arch and cheeky. Its skill is in the edit, as the camera tightens in on shots capturing the campness in full, it neatly ties everything together giving the contrast between a lovely snowy landscape one minute and full on sword combat next. Things gently simmer away, without becoming too ripe or signposting moments.
The acting is spot on also, Perez steals many early scenes with a majestic naff performance coming off almost like an Adam and the Ants reject, he himself boarders on being a villain. Marie Gillain is very appealing as Aurore a sexy, but independent young sword fighter. Add this to a cracking bunch of fight scenes, a real engagement with the characters, and a script with depth as well as thrills then the time flies by.
Le Bossu is out on DVD tomorrow, 5th October.
Director: Philippe de Broca
Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Fabrice Luchini, Vincent Perez, Marie Gillain
Runtime: 128 min
Country: France, Italy, Germany