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Anthony Zimmer | Review

If Legs Could Kill

Intrigue, deception and the element of surprise are key components to Salle’s debut.

It was referred to by Hitchcock as the Mcguffin and modern audiences relate to as the Kaiser Sosa – sometimes what you see is what you get or sometimes it’s an item that distracts from the real concern. Jérôme Salle’s directorial debut is a French thriller inspired by the formula of the genre where carpets get pulled from underneath on more than one occasion. Here the progatonist acts as a tangent for mistaken identity and here the antagonist is the role seduction plays. The is a guy’s movie made in guy heaven.

A bored with life mystery man (Yvan Attal) embarks on a dizzying, amorous, life-threatening adventure with the owner of a pair of legs that would make any grown man cry. The mystery woman played by Sophie Marceau is a modern femme fatale chooses the sucker by convenience – her motto if she had one would be in order to trap one man, you need to trap two. Shouldering/protecting her man (mentioned by name for the entirety of the film), she is the mastermind behind a complex game of identity switcheroo.

Add chase sequences and a slick backdrop from the Southern coasts of France and you’ve got a contemporary piece that winks its eye to the sort of stuff that Hitch was known for. While character motivations remain far-fetched, traps and track marks are exaggerated and the great pull from underneath is detectable early on, Salle’s homage of sorts to North by Northwest (mistaken identity and train romance) plays its narrative cards in the necessary order to keep the interest present up until the end.

What the thriller might lack for in originality – the pile-up of different interests from the police, the villains and the innocent bystander converging in the film’s final sequence is a narrative item that isn’t as fashionable as this film proposes – yet Salle’s debut remains a playful screenplay and certainly isn’t hindered by the triplet of items that include – a smooth pacing, the ideal progression of displacements in locations and a vixen that looks like Morceau.

Most likely Salle’s Anthony Zimmer is a title that will be made available only in European film markets – but if all things French, all things Marceau and all films of this subgenre are of interest then this is a harmless homage worth investigating. Worst case scenario this is surely not the last we’ll here of the Salle signature.

Rating 2.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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