Friday, August 10, 2018

DVDebut for Cédric Anger's César-nominated 2014 film, NEXT TIME I'LL AIM FOR THE HEART

Writer/director, and occasional André Téchiné collaborator, Cédric Anger, has been involved in a number of excellent movies, from Le petit lieutenant to In the Name of My Daughter and the very dark but fascinating film from 2014 entitled NEXT TIME I'LL AIM FOR HEART, just now making its U.S. DVD debut via Icarus Home Video. It's a fictionalized account -- though jumping off only from the known facts of this true-life case -- of a notorious late-1970s serial killer who, even as he was terrorizing France via his murders of vulnerable young girls, was also a highly regarded gendarme whose job it was to catch this killer.

The policeman-as-murderer has a long and awful history, both in life and on film, and M. Anger's treatment (the filmmaker is shown at left) is a very dark but worthwhile one. In the leading role, Anger has cast that fine French actor, Guillaume Canet (below), with whom he worked previously (in another dark role) on the Téchiné Name/Daughter film. This is certainly the darkest character TrustMovies has seen Canet play, and the actor fills it to the brim with creepy, deadly specificity. Watching him, you just want out -- of the room, the film, and the life you're witnessing.

Canet has never been one of those drop-dead gorgeous actors. Yet he's attractive enough and has learned how to use this attribute wisely and in a number of interesting ways. Consequently, you can easily understand how the pretty young neighbor girl (Ana Girardot, below) who cooks and cleans for this gendarme would find him something of a good (if oddball) "catch."

The Canet's character's craziness is on view from the initial scene and only grows more frightening as the film unfurls. As often happens with these sociopaths, that craziness is abetted by a keen-if-misplaced intelligence, so that our anti-hero is able to keep his comrade gendarmes at bay, as well as the French police (yes, these two are not quite the same thing), even as his crimes grow worse and happen more often.

The movie does not dwell on the blood or violence; in fact, all this is sometimes seen from a welcome distance. Yet the horror and awfulness of it sinks in just as deeply, as do the ideas/ideals of protection and justice that law officers supposedly represent instead turned on their heads in a particularly cruel irony.

At 111 minutes, the movie does not quite wear out its ugly welcome, though we might wonder, as we so often do at the close of this kind of film, just what we've learned. Misogynistic crazies do exist, all right -- hell, look at Donald Trump -- and their behavior must in all cases be halted.  Otherwise, Next Time I'll Aim for the Heart proves a good example of that sub-genre, the dirty cop in extremis, done in low-key, near-documentary style.

From Icarus Home Video and Distrib Films US, the movie hits the street on DVD this coming Tuesday, August 14 -- for purchase and/or rental.

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