Well there have been many more films about photographers than I cared to realise or remember. For me the films that stick in my mind are Rear Window, Funny Face and, of course, Blow Up – but these films, I think, belie the fact that I prefer to live in a mythic past rather than a gritty reality. Naturally there have been others of ‘gritty reality’ merit such as City of God, The Year of Living Dangerously (whatever did happen to Mel Gibson’s career?), Salvador and Under Fire.
But not since Blow Up has there been a film about the power of photography combined with intrigue and existential pondering like L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie. As Tim Grierson of Screen Daily says, L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie is “vaguely reminiscent of another of Antonioni’s films, The Passenger. It is a film about a character who assumes a dead man’s identity and goes on a journey of personal exploration”.
I do not want to give away too much of the plot but suffice to say that it begins with a Parisian bourgeois relationship which quite suddenly turns into a life changing tragedy resulting in a journey of identity. Romain Duris (Dans Paris, The Beat That My Heart Skipped) is not only devilishly handsome but is also maturing into a very fine actor indeed, and it is his skill that really lends this film credibility.
Directed by Eric Lartigau, L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie is an existential thriller of the best sort, it is character driven, considered and, finally, reasonably profound. Do not expect a roller coaster ride, as I think Les Inrocks must have “Scolaire et sans relief”, having awarded the film just one star out of four – it is far more intelligent than that. Remember, I watched this entirely in French, without subtitles, and I was so completely absorbed by the film that language was no barrier at all. There cannot be a better sign of quality than that surely?