Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Man Escaped

Funny how this and Le Trou ended up so close together in my queue. They're both French prison escape movies released in a five year period, set in the 40s, and they're both very good. While Le Trou was about five men working together to escape imprisonment, A Man Escaped focuses almost entirely on a single man, a member of the French resistance who's being held by the Nazis and must break out before he is executed. Much like Le Trou, the cast is made up of mostly non-actors and derives most of its action from a simple take on the real events that inspired the story. There's not a lot of drama or forced suspense, no shocking twists or fake outs or anything designed to manufacture a response from the audience. Just a man plotting and painstakingly preparing for his escape. I gotta say, it really works. The plan is interesting and fairly clever, and the way the plot slowly ramps up the stakes and makes his continued imprisonment turn into a clock ticking towards his death is a great way to make the simplest moments seem incredibly important. The man's guilt over leaving while his fellow Frenchmen are being killed and internal struggle with what to do at various points is palpable, and it's just a really well filmed, taut work of art. The ending is kind of abrupt and anticlimactic, but it also fits with the entire tone of the story, taking realism over the traditional ups and downs of a plot, so it wasn't really an issue. I wasn't quite as entranced by it as I was by that other movie, but I was still very impressed by it.

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