The Untouchable

Admittedly, I was underwhelmed by À TOUT DE SUITE, the last feature film
collaboration between star Isild Le Besco and director Benoît Jacquot.
In fact, I've often found Le Besco to be too passive a screen presence. She's
too interior for my tastes. Still, I went into the latest teaming of actress and
filmmaker with an open mind and I can say I was somewhat pleasantly
surprised -- at least for part of the film.

THE UNTOUCHABLE (L'INTOUCHABLE) opens as Jeanne (Le Besco),
an actress, is celebrating her birthday with her mother (Bérangère Bonvoisin).
During the course of the evening, mom reveals that Jeanne's birth father is
really an Indian with whom she had a brief affair. This is news to Jeanne and it
upsets her world. She decides to abandoned appearing in a production of
Brecht's "St. Joan of the Stockyards" directed by her lover (Louis-Do de
Lencquesaing) and instead accepts a role in a film for the cash so she can
afford to travel to India. There are sequences of the movie-within-the-movie
that show Jeanne clashing with the director (Marc Barbé), most notably over
the filming of a love scene.

The movie then shifts gears (and languages) as Jeanne travels on to India
and begins to search for the man she believes is her father. Along the way,
she meets a gay couple (Pascal Bongard and Pierre Chevalier), one of whom
invites her to meet with a childhood friend of his who is now a nun (portrayed
by cinematographer Caroline Champetier). Jeanne also makes the
acquaintance of Mani (Parikshit Luthra), who may or may not be her
half-brother. He invites her to meet his family and she is even asked to attend
the wedding of one of Mani's sisters, which leads to a meeting with the man
she thinks is her father.

Le Besco does a fine job in the first half of the film. She was portraying a
somewhat strong-willed woman who was willing to stand up for herself. But
once she got on that plane to India -- and she began speaking in English -- the
character lost all interest. To my mind, she just is not a strong enough actress
to anchor this part of story. It didn't help that there were endless shots of her
making her way through the crowded streets or to the funeral pyres of the
untouchables. These sequences did nothing to add to the drama or to the
story and the eventual denouement turned out to be more disappointing than
anything else.

THE UNTOUCHABLE (L'INTOUCHABLE) squandered its premise
and stranded its leading lady.

Rating:                C+

© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Jeanne in
The Untouchable /
Directed by Benoît
Jacquot, 2006; 82m

Photo Credit:
Pyramide International