Saturday, January 20, 2018

DVDebut for IN HER NAME, Vincent Garenq's drama of death and much-delayed justice

Less a revenge thriller than a quiet and compassionate drama of loss, anger and a search for justice, IN HER NAME, the 2016 French film by Vincent Garenq and starring the exceptional Daniel Auteuil, is a tale taken from life that spans several decades but compresses these into a smartly conceived, directed and written (by Garenq, shown below, and Julien Rappeneau) movie that lasts but 87 compelling minutes that are definitely worth a watch.

A true-life tale that made news in its native France, the movie tells of the Bamberski family -- husband (M. Auteuil), wife (Marie-Josée Croze, shown two photos below) and their two children -- torn apart by the wife's continuing infidelity with a family acquaintance (his daughter is a schoolmate/friend of their daughter) who is a successful doctor in Germany and who proves to be a swine of the first order. This character, who exists mainly as the significant "villain," is  played with a near-perfect combination of charm, sex appeal and sleaze by German actor, Sebastian Koch, shown below, left, with Auteuil.

The story -- which begins with the arrest of M. Bamberski by French authorities (we're unsure of exactly why, although kidnapping has been mentioned) -- then backtracks some 30 years to Morocco and then France, Germany, and back again, as events unfold in a continuous time-line made up of relatively short scenes that show us what is happening and why.

Although these events involve things such as rape, untimely death and maybe murder, Garenq avoids any heavy melodrama by keeping his film to more of a documentary style (and I mean that in the old-fashioned, not the newer, hybrid, sense of the word). He doesn't try to jolt us or turn his movie into a suspense thriller. He doesn't need to because the events themselves are awful enough, and what happens after the initial death proves even more jarring and anger-provoking. The filmmaker has chosen to tell his tale in what turns out to be the most appropriate way possible.

Garenq's other ace-in-the-hole is his leading actor. M. Auteuil has for decades now proven his command of the screen in his own generally quiet fashion. He can on occasionally go over the top, too, and either way stealing films from under other heavier-handed actors like Gérard Depardieu (remember The Closet) without even trying.

Here his quiet determination is both believable and occasionally chilling. He's an obsessive, all right, but as someone who has lost his daughter, first to her betrayer and then to the French and German justice systems, how could he not be? Auteuil holds the film together and brings it home. His final line, in fact, is as simple, honest and heart-breaking as you could want.

The supporting cast (made up mostly of characters trying to help Bamberski achieve his goal) is also spot-on, with Christelle Cornil (above) especially good as the new woman in Bamberski's life who tries her best to join in/put up with his obsession.

Out on DVD from Icarus Films and streaming from Distrib Films, In Her Name, in French with English subtitles, is available now -- for both purchase or rental.

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