Happy New Year

An entertaining but vacuous effort from Claude Lelouch, HAPPY NEW YEAR combines the tenderness of a love story, the suspense of a caper film, and the hard-edged sensitivity of a male buddy picture. Simon (Lino Ventura), a con man just released from prison, teams with another former inmate, Charlot (Charles Gerard), and plots an elaborate heist of a jewelry...read more

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An entertaining but vacuous effort from Claude Lelouch, HAPPY NEW YEAR combines the tenderness of a love story, the suspense of a caper film, and the hard-edged sensitivity of a male buddy picture. Simon (Lino Ventura), a con man just released from prison, teams with another former

inmate, Charlot (Charles Gerard), and plots an elaborate heist of a jewelry store. While casing the store, Simon notices Francoise (Francoise Fabian), a pretty antique dealer whose shop is located next to his target, and, in short order, concocts a scheme to win her over. The result is a pleasant

tale that uses a slightly tricky structural device (most of the film, photographed in color, is a flashback from the far superior black-and-white opening and closing scenes) as a crutch for the otherwise standard script. Most of the fun comes from the caper setup, as Simon masquerades as a frail

octogenarian who visits the store to purchase expensive jewelery for his dying sister. There are also numerous references to other films (notably Lelouch's own A MAN AND A WOMAN) and filmmakers, including Bertolucci, Bellocchio, Lean, Chaplin, Minnelli. Remade in 1985 (though released in 1987) by

John G. Avildsen with Peter Falk in the Lino Ventura role. The videocassette is available in both subtitled and dubbed (French into English) versions.

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