Franck Spadone (2000)
"Nothing makes sense."- Franck Spadone (Stanislas Merhar)
Stars: Monica Bellucci, Stanislas Merhar, Carlo Brandt
Director: Richard Bean
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, sexual content)
Run Time: 01h:24m:06s
Release Date: 2004-10-19
DVD ReviewThe more eager you are to gaze extensively at Monica Bellucci, the more likely you are to like this movie. There's lots of mood and style in this French neo-noir; there's not a whole lot of dramatic interest, though, unfortunately, and the writing and filmmaking travel in lots of hard-boiled clichés. A fetching leading lady goes a long way, but not long enough. (If you've got any doubts as to who the main attraction is here, check out the cover of the DVD case, above; you'll see no pictures of the title character, and three of Bellucci.)
Franck Spadone (Stanislas Merhar) is one part of a pickpocketing tandem; we see them hustling on the Metro in Paris and, inevitably, they choose the wrong mark. Laura (Bellucci) is a stripper and a gun moll; her man is a big-time gangster, and tucked into the purse that the boys lift from her is a big old rock of a diamond. Franck of course falls hard for Laura, meaning that not only has he stolen from the mob, but he's got eyes on the capo's girl; we've all seen enough of these movies to know that no good can come of this.
The story is a little pokey in getting going, and with a run time of less than an hour and a half, it means that there isn't room for much plot development. Instead we get a number of scenes backstage at Laura's place of employ, and we witness certain discreet intimacies between the ladies and the intimations of more. So it's not a great crime film, but it's full of a certain amount of pickpockets and hot lesbian action. If that's your idea of a combustible combination, well, here you go, knock yourself out.
We're occasionally in Blue Velvet territory—Franck likes to watch—but as you watch, you'll keep sort of hoping that the movie will get it together and be a little more ingenious. It never happens, and it's hard to avoid the conclusion that Bellucci is treated basically like a piece of meat. There's not a lot for her to do; she is lovely, but in a movie with not a lot else going on, lingering shots on her removing makeup from her beestung lips become annoying, not luscious. There are some nice elements in the production design—the film favors deeply saturated reds—but we're here to watch a movie, not flip through a fashion magazine, and this is a film that doesn't seem to know that there's a difference.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The picture quality may be the best thing about this DVD—the reds are full and rich, in all sorts of incarnations: lipstick, leather wallets, blood trickling down the walls like Pollock splatter paint. A nice transfer without any significant blemishes.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: Some static and hiss interfere with an otherwise clean track.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Extras Review: The only extra is a photo gallery (01m:26s) featuring stills from the feature.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA few dollops of filmmaking style and a scantily clad Monica Bellucci cannot make up for the fact that there's not much to this movie. This is well-shot but instantly forgettable stuff.
Jon Danziger 2004-12-14