Jun 10, 2009

Anything For Her [15]

Dir: Fred Cavayé’s
Fred Cavayé’s film is very much a genre entry, so much so that it feels almost like an off the shelf thriller, not so much crafted as it has been reached down, dusted off, and put on the screen. 

That’s not a terrible thing, there is a reason that genre films are popular, and if done well they can be near peerless entertainments. Anything for Her isn’t anything like that good, but as generic thrillers go it’s a perfectly solid one. The story has young wife and mother Lisa (Diane Kruger) arrested and imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit (that’s not a spoiler). Three years later, her final appeal a failure, her French teacher husband (Vincent Lindon) decides that he’s going to break her out of prison and go on the run with their five-year-old son.

The biggest problem with Anything For Her is simply that we as an audience know too much. The fact that, within the first half hour, we know that Kruger isn’t guilty removes a lot of potential complexity from the film. Thrillers thrive on exploiting gaps in our knowledge, or in the characters knowledge, and there simply aren’t enough of those gaps here to make Anything For Her engage on many levels besides the visceral.

However, thanks to Cavayé’s solid direction, several sequences really do thrill on that visceral level. Two sequences in particular get the pulse pounding. In one Lindon steals money from a drug dealer, in order to finance the breakout and subsequent escape. The escape sequence itself is a beautifully choreographed extended set piece, even if it’s not an especially surprising one. Still, the film as a whole moves at a good pace, and it’s never boring. What helps lift Anything For Her slightly out of the painfully ordinary is a pair of strong leading performances. Vincent Lindon; late 40’s, face like cracked leather and Diane Kruger; early 30’s, porcelain beauty make for an odd couple, but there is chemistry between them, enough that you buy not just their relationship but the fact that it has survived Lisa’s conviction and first three years in prison. Individually they each give strong performances but Lindon, whose intense show is the focus of the movie and whose desperate descent into criminality is genuinely compelling, is by far the standout here.

Anything For Her is far from great, in fact it's pretty forgettable, but it’s a perfectly acceptable way to pass 96 minutes. It’s brisk and entertaining, with solid direction and performances and as long as you don’t expect anything life changing you’ll likely enjoy it.

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