Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #15. Oh Mercy – Arnaud Desplechin
French auteur Arnaud Desplechin switches things up a bit for his tenth feature film Oh Mercy (previously known as Roubaix: a Light/Roubaix: Une Lumiere), a crime drama/character study based on a 2002 true story from the filmmaker’s hometown. Financed by CNC and produced by Pascal Caucheteux of Why Not Productions, the title has already been presold overseas by Wild Bunch. Desplechin is one of France’s most beloved contemporary directors, having competed five times in the Cannes competition (La Sentinelle, 1992; My Sex Life…or How I Got Into an Argument, 1996; Esther Kahn, 2000; A Christmas Tale, 2008; Jimmy P., 2013), programmed once in Un Certain Regard (2003’s Playing ‘In the Company of Men’) and a contentious premiere for 2015’s My Golden Days at Cannes 2015, a film which would win him a Cesar for Best Director. In 2017, Desplechin’s Ismael’s Ghosts opened the festival out-of-competition. Desplechin has competed once at Venice, with 2004’s Kings and Queen. Roubaix is not only a crack at a new genre for Desplechin, it is also his first narrative not to feature his constant persona, Mathieu Amalric. Instead, Roschdy Zem and Antoine Reinartz (of Campillo’s BPM) play a pair of policemen to support what promises to be another of Desplechin’s showcases for actresses for roles played by Léa Seydoux and Sara Forestier.
Gist: Co-written by Lea Mysius, Roschdy Zem stars Police Chief Zouad, who along with rookie cop Louis (Antoine Reinartz), are confronted one Christmas night by the murder of an old woman. The woman’s neighbors, Claude and Marie (Seydoux and Forestier), who appear to be alcoholic, drug addicted lovers, might have something to do with her demise.
Release Date/Prediction: Desplechin began shooting Oh Mercy in late November 2018 for a planned seven-week production. Depending on his post-production period, we can count on Desplechin to either return to Cannes (where he would likely secure his first comp slot since 2013) or make his second grab at the Golden Lion in Venice (where he hasn’t been since 2004).