On The Run

Belgian writer/actor/director Lucas Belvaux's startling Trilogy — an audacious tour de force which follows several related characters in Grenoble, France, across three very different movies — kicks off with a bang. Largely inspired by Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, in which a group of friends and lovers in 1940s Egypt are seen from four...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Belgian writer/actor/director Lucas Belvaux's startling Trilogy — an audacious tour de force which follows several related characters in Grenoble, France, across three very different movies — kicks off with a bang. Largely inspired by Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, in which a group of friends and lovers in 1940s Egypt are seen from four different perspectives in four separate novels, Belvaux's Trilogy presents a similar, multi-angle view, with a bold twist: Each story is cast in radically different genre. ON THE RUN is a grim neo-noir thriller; AN AMAZING COUPLE is a effervescent romantic comedy and AFTER THE LIFE is a multi-hankie melodrama. And if that weren't enough to handle, Belvaux stars in ON THE RUN as a violent '70s revolutionary who escapes prison only to find the world he left radically changed. Fifteen years after he and several comrades from the "Armee Populaire" were convicted of committing a series of deadly armed actions, Bruno le Roux (Belvaux) stages a daring break-out. His old friend and get-away driver (Herve Livet) is shot and killed by police, but Bruno is undeterred: Before crossing the border into Italy, Bruno plans to free his still-incarcerated brothers and avenge their capture by killing the man he holds responsible (Patrick Descamps) and blowing-up the Hall of Justice. This revolutionary Rip Van Winkle is, however, in for a rude awaking: Many of his fellow-travelers have settled into lives of bourgeois comfort. Once a fiery revolutionary, Jeanne (Catherine Frot) is now a teacher with a husband (Olivier Darimont) and young son (Elie Belvaux), and while she still keeps the keys to the group's safe house hidden in a closet, her priorities have changed. When Bruno finally reaches Grenoble, Jeanne must choose between helping the man who took the fall while she went free and protecting her family — a choice that becomes increasingly vivid as the body count starts to rise. A major subplot involving Agnes (Dominique Blanc), the drug-addicted wife of a police officer (Gilbert Melki), introduces the central characters of the following films. But Bruno is main attraction here and Belvaux is excellent, both in front of and behind the camera. Suffused with a real sense of sadness of the lost ideals of a generation, the film transcends the banality of many lesser thrillers. But remember, these films are first and foremost genre pieces, so be prepared for a final, particularly cruel twist of fate that fully justifies calling this film "noir." (In French, with English subtitles.)

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Belgian writer/actor/director Lucas Belvaux's startling Trilogy — an audacious tour de force which follows several related characters in Grenoble, France, across three very different movies — kicks off with a bang. Largely inspired by Lawrence Du… (more)

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