« L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie »

Hello everyone, I hope you spent great holidays and I wish you all an happy new year !

During this time, I saw a very interesting french film (it explains the title) about exile and I remembered the document that our teacher gave us written by Christopher Booker named « Voyage and Return stories : main features » that sum up the main points that constitue a Voyage or an Exile story. I decided to introduce you the film and compare it briefly to points that are mentioned in the text.

« L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie » is an adaptation based on an american book named « The Big Picture » written by Douglas Kennedy and published in 1997.

The main character is named Paul Exben (Romain Duris), a very famous Parisian lawyer seems to have everything to success in his life with his work but also with his family because he is a married and has 2 children. He also have a secret passion for photography since his adolescence. Things seem to go even better when his work partner propose him to become the owner from the law firm. But one day, everything falls apart when he discovers that his wife (Marina Foïs) is cheating on him with a friend from the couple, Grégoire (Eric Ruf), who is also a photograph. She broke up with Paul few times after and one day, he comes to see his old friend Grégoire. He becomes crazy about his relationship with his ex wife and accidentally kills him. Completely terrified he decides to run away from France by using the idendity of his victim : Now, Paul Exben is Gregoire Kremer, a photographer. But in his troubles he realizes that this event is an unique occasion to realize his dream : leave everything behind him to live from his passion. Before leaving, he eliminates the dead body in the sea and reaches Montenegro.

He has to restart everything : a new identity in a new country without any money, no friends (actually his relatives thinks that he died) but his hidden skill for photography will help him in his new adventure and finally this accident becomes a real opportunity to reconsider his life but he still live with the burden of a murder and have to stay discreet, even invisible.

To me this film is a real slap : first, aesthetically, the shots are very well built to represent the main character’s confinement : the shots are really tight like if Paul was trapped in his own daily life and you can notice the perfect symetry in the first shot at the beginning of the post, and I noticed that the shots made in Montenegro are even more spectacular : the colors are very pale,like frozen and the environment is really simple, rudimentary and picturesque. I don’t forget the soundtrack that emphazises perfectly each feelings from each characters.

Then I wanted to give you my opinion about the whole plot : Personally, I’m really interested in psychological films so I don’t think that I will be not really objective : I found it fascinating because in our society, we don’t realize that sometimes our daily life can become a real trap for us without knowing and it reminds us that happiness in a very fragile thing ; it’s really easy to lose and we see that trouble never comes alone. Moreover, I think that this film is a nice tribute to these people who keep their dream inside them but are not brave enough to live from their passion. It’s also a great call to leave everything behind you and start to do something that you really want to do. At first sight, it can appear as very naive but there is a constant shadow in this film : Paul Exben is a murderer and the director shows perfectly his constant escape : He is now banned from normal society and it appears as a real problem when it’s about to find a job or to make friends. The end shows it very well. Actually, I think that it’s a really balanced film.

Just a mention about the actors : I don’t know if you have already seen the cinematographic duet made of Romain Duris and Niels Arestrup but to me, they are the two best french actors together. Their play is always right and intense ( especially in « De Battre Mon Coeur s’est arrêté or « Un prophète » from Jacques Audiard). They make a great representation of friendship sometimes really slight or atrocious.

This picture comes from the film : it’s the first shot that Paul took in Montenegro.

Now I want to focus on the comparison between this film and our document : This story belongs to the first category of film : it’s a journey in a new world. The type also belongs to a type from the document : It’s a story about someone who discover a new country, here Montenegro, far away from his Parisian life.

In fact if we follow the pattern of a typical story, I noticed that some points are strangely similar :

1. The Anticipation Stage : It goes along with this story because at the beginning we understand that Paul Exben dreams of something bigger an different from his daily life but he is a coward who has his own confort.

2. Initial an fascination or Dream Stage : this part is also present in this film but not yet because actually Paul Exben just killed someone ; he takes him a long time to recover but finally starts to enjoy his life when he tries to take some pictures : A journalist noticed him and he becomes a local star in his village ; he really likes his life in Montenegro and becomes friend with Bartholomé (Niels Arestrup).

3. Frustration Stage : Sadly; the shadows follow Paul Exben (Or Kremer) because his notoriety forces him to show him up : a photo exhibition is dedicated to him but he realizes that his crime dosen’t allow him to appear in public and get recognized for his talent. It’s the price to pay.

4. The Nightmare Stage : Paul understands that he doesn’t have other choices than run away : people start to ask about him, his life, where does he come from… He founds love and friend but he knows that if he stays, things will turn bad for him. Here again, he has to leave everything to get a boat clandestinely and here the nightmare is at its climax : The boat crew wants to throw him into the sea…

5.Thrilling escape : Miraculously; someone throws him a life boat and he can go back on board. He finally arrives with new pictures but he stays discreet and into the shadow. We understand that it’s a vicious circle.

Actually, it’s pretty funny because the pattern is barely the same : as if voyage and exile stories have to follow the same rules. But few differences make this film unique and captivating. I know that this post is really too long but I had a lot of things to say about it. Hope that you took the time to read it and if you want, comment it because I’ll glad to discuss about it.

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