The Serpent at the IMDb
Sub-titled French movies aren’t a staple of The Definite Article Movie Review but this one is well worth a look, not least because Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko shows us what she’s made of.
An old chap thinks he’s got lucky when the sexy Olga goes on a blind date with him but you get nothing for nothing and soon a sinister gang of blackmailers is on his tail. He pays up but it’s never enough. We think he’s being used to show us how the gang operates but he will reappear down the line so remember him and his hearing aid!
The bad guys look for their next mark and choose Vincent. We think he’s been targeted at random but nothing is what it seems in this labyrinth plot. Vincent is a fashion photographer in the midst of a messy divorce from his wife with whom he is still living. He arranged a shoot for the next day and is surprised to find Olga is his late replacement model and his helpers can’t come in as they have been beaten up. The shoot goes well and Vincent thinks his luck is in when Olga gives him a nice kiss - and she’s a scratcher too! Alas he has to run but next day the cops charge him with attempted rape.
The charges are dropped and Olga comes by to tell him he’s been targeted in a scam. Just as we are starting to think she’s nice she drugs his drink and soon the whole gang arrives to photograph Vincent in some kinky poses. He revives just in time to see Olga leave and as he chases after her she falls from his unnecessarily dangerous staircase, seemingly to her death. Vincent, who is already on the police’s radar, calls his lawyer who, on finding no trace of the body, thinks his client is nuts. Things get worse for Vincent however when he’s rear ended and finds Olga’s body in his boot and the cops have just arrived.
The other driver reveals himself to be an old school friend of Vincent’s and he arranges to get the car fixed and the body disposed of - you don’t get that service from Aviva! The body hider, Plender, starts to turn the screws looking for cash and a few free dinners at Vincent’s. Our man starts to investigate his menacing friend and after his lawyer is killed he realises that the noose is tightening. Charged with murder Vincent goes on the run - can he turn the tables on the blackmailer and save his family from the freezer of doom?
I enjoyed this superior thriller and although it was a bit long there were enough twists to keep me interested. I liked how the troubles piled up on Vincent and it was hard to see how he could escape the elaborate traps that had been set by the dead-eyed Plender. The ending was a little too pat for my liking but I did enjoy the twists most notably the grave robbing!
Yvan Attal was excellent in the lead role as the troubled Vincent as was Clovis Cornillac as the malevolent Plender. Plender’s motivation was well documented but it was a bit unclear why he waited for his Mum to die before focusing on Vincent. Maybe it sent him over the edge or he’s just got plenty of patience. The blackmailing scenes were well done with the poor suckers reeled in by the slick and sexy operation and I liked the creepy shine to the dear departed mother.
All in all this was an enjoyable Gallic thriller with my only real complaint the title - not a serpent in sight apart from the tattoo on the bad guys back - should have called it ‘French Blackmail/Revenge Film’ - at least that does what it says on the tin!
78% Best Bit - Olga’s lingerie shoot