Until about four years ago, I knew nowt about French cinema.
Sure, I had toyed with the occasional movie, but not really immersed myself into geekdom in the way I do now.
Then I discovered Romain Duris. Mrs W and I howled with laughter at Moliere and realised that sub-titled films weren't as inpenetrable as we had believed.
I later enjoyed Duris's role as a gigolo in Heartbreaker and, therefore, had high hopes of The Big Picture, which is released in the UK this weekend (thanks to Jake at Artificial Eye for the screener).
Eric Lartigau's movie is a strange one, though. It takes an absolute age to get going but then the last 30 minutes shoot by in a blur.
Duris plays Paul Exben, a highly successful lawyer, whose marriage is in deep crisis.
Despite the denials of his wife (Marina Fois), he believes she's having an affair with a neighbour, a successful photographer.
I've just realised that if I write a word more about the plot I will be in spoiler territory, so I'd better shut up.
Suffice to say that the languid pace of the first 45 minutes is ratcheted up as the film goes on.
However, there is a finale which is so brisk that only when |I consulted Mrs W, did I realise what had happened.
Duris is again top drawer. He is absolutely convincing as a high-flying lawyer or desperate and jealous husband.
There is also a smashing little cameo by Niels Arestrup.
I mention him because I've discovered that every film he appears in, is worth watching. For example, his recent movies have included The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, The Prophet and Farewell. He turns up again soon in Sarah's Key.
The Big Picture isn't as good as the aforementioned classics but it is worth a view.
It has a clever idea but could have done with ten minutes taken out of its flabby first half and at least five inserted into its denouement, so to speak.
With all of this in mind, I'm giving it 6.5/10
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