Global rating of the product: 4.5 stars ( a must see)
Jacques Mesrine is probably one of the most popular French OG’s of the 20th century and maybe also one of the most enigmatic. Jacques Mesrine marqued my childhood, because he was constantly making the headlines in the French news. His place of death, rue Belliard, Paris, is also very familiar to me, because I used to live near there a few years ago.
Putting this enigmatic figure on the screen was a risky and delicate task, as Jacques doesn’t really fit into the standard gangsta stereotype. He was a man of many faces: attaching, touching, with a warped sense of humor, certainly a man of word with his fellow gangsta friends, but also violent and even cruel in specific circumstances. The main challenge was probaly to find an actor who was able to incarnate the complexity of Mr Mesrine’s character. The producer found the right person in Vincent Cassel ( well known for his brilliant play in La Haine).
Vincent Cassel plays his role so much to the perfection that he becomes Jacques Mesrine. He incarnates the criminal, the bank robber picturing the outlaw’s tough side ( according to what I heard and saw in my childhood, I have the impression that the real Mesrine was a tougher man, though).
Vincent Cassel also depicts Jacques attaching side, as a father or simply in his relationship with women, except the quite horrible scene in which he puts a gun into his wife’s mouth.
The war of Algeria has shaped young Jacques who considers self defence and illegal affairs as a way of life. As Jacques eventually returns to his parents’ home in Clichy, he also chooses his destiny: to live by the arms.
Love him or hate him, one must recognize Jacques’ cleverness. The movie enlightens the criminal’s genius in terms of organizing robberies and evasions from jail, in France and in Canada, It also recalls detainees horrible detention conditions and allows the viewer some reflection about corruption in the judiciary system, which Jacques sarcastically points out, giving evidence at his own trial.
While some people would consider him as a kind of ” Robin Hood”, some others would qualify him as “Public Enemy Nr1”.
Jacques Mesrine reached such a great degree of popularity that he made the Paris Match cover.
In his own point of view, Jacques was fighting against capitalism by “taking money from the state’s institutions” ( the banks) and a revolutionary trying to liberate his co-detainees in prison. While I admit that the person must have scared the hell out of people ( and he would probably have scared the hell out of me too if I had met him), I nevertheless find his character and story fascinating. The story takes place mainly in France and in Canada, where Mesrine manages to kidnap a billionaire which he will reiterate in France asking for a huge ransom.
Let Vincent Cassel introduce you to Mesrine’s character and follow the story…you won’t be disappointed!
Copyright by Isabelle Esling
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