Are we watching or not? My Crime by Francois Ozon
With Mon Crime, Francois Ozon signs a feminist detective comedy with a light, funny and theatrical tone
what is my crime In the 1930s in Paris, Madeleine Verdier, a young and pretty, destitute and talentless actress, is accused of murdering a famous producer. Supported by her best friend Pauline, a young unemployed lawyer, she is acquitted of self-defence. Then begins a new life of fame and success, until the truth comes out… The film, which will be released in cinemas on March 8th – the day of women’s rights – in France, wants to be feminist and powerful.
Adapted from the play by Georges Berr and Louis Verneuil, this film was also a hit in 1934. According to the press release, director Francois Ozon wanted to make a film about “a fake” or “a wrong perpetrator”. This piece was therefore the perfect opportunity to explore this topic. He did not hesitate to assign the leading roles to two young hopefuls of French cinema, Nadia Tereszkiewicz (The Almond Trees) and his partner Rebecca Marder (Simone, the journey of the century). The two young actresses will also be accompanied by renowned actors who are familiar with Ozon films, such as André Dussolier, Fabrice Luchini and Isabelle Huppert. In the press release, the director expressed his desire to take up contemporary themes, the balance of power between men and women, the situation of women, strongly reminiscent of #Metoo, in the context of the 1930s, light, crazy and refreshing tone, while maintaining his theatrical aspect fully accepts.
This new film from Ozon is very well orchestrated and shows true creative freedom. From the writing of the dialogues to the measured vocabulary, with funny words, crazy answers, through theatrical twists, unexpected twists, inopportune situations, it is part of an assumed theatrical setting of Paris in the Roaring Twenties. Philippe Rombi’s music is rich and varied, sometimes jazzy if not lyrical, and sometimes we can even recognize film noir sounds, it soothes the film and captivates the viewer at key moments. The coup de force of the film consists in realizing references to time, topical issues in a time in which the position of women was hardly or not at all questioned. This new approach gives the film something innovative, refreshing, never falling into the caricature of a committed film. At no time does Ozon sacrifice artistic film to political film, quite the opposite.
All the actors are convincing, a point of honor for Fabrice Luchini and Dany Boon, who are very funny in their own way. However, Nadia Tereszkiewicz isn’t overwhelming, even if her duet with Rebecca Marder works well. The trick of constantly imagining and reinventing situations and scenarios as part of Luchini’s investigations gives the film a fresh spontaneity that captivates the viewer. We don’t stop spinning throughout the film, and despite the two female characters’ cheating, we still remain on their side because they use whatever weapons they have in their hands at the time to defend a cause . : the thing of women. André Dussolier’s line in the role of a greedy entrepreneur: “I wonder if I haven’t suddenly lost the idea of good and evil,” sums up the audience’s feelings. Whatever the means, the cause defended by this devilish duo is noble and beautiful.
We love less
The film’s downside might lie in the acting of the leading lady, who is fair but never gets upset. Although his sometimes suicidal, moody and unpredictable character might not be that easy to interpret, we don’t feel any crazy emotion. The other negative aspect that we could highlight is this “overflow” effect, which at times seems like a fanfare. It’s fully justified, however, as the film fits in and embraces a theatrical comedy that deserves incredible scenes and other genre-specific deus ex machina. One might think that the story goes in all directions, but no, in the end the film is so well written that the viewer easily understands the film and stays in context. In conclusion, one can say that Francois Ozon has made a very spirited film without being a masterpiece. He still manages to speak about freedom and the plight of women in a totally innovative, light and creative way.