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The Premonition

North American Premiere

France | 100 MINUTES | French |

THE PREMONITION

Drama

After appearing in nearly 80 films, the noted French actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of a 1936 novel by Emmanuel Bove, which he first read as a young man and which has haunted him ever since. Bove (1898-1945) is still little known outside France, where his champions include Samuel Beckett. Like his protagonists, he's been described as “a man who was trying to become forgotten the way others try to become known.” Updating the novel to contemporary Paris, Darroussin himself plays the central role of a wealthy lawyer, Charles Benesteau, who drops out of the bourgeois circle of his wife and family and moves into a small apartment in a multi-ethnic working-class neighborhood. Charles intends to write and live unnoticed, believing he'll find happiness in anonymous solitude. His pretentious and nasty relatives think he's lost his marbles, and his wife files for divorce. Meanwhile, in his new milieu, altruistic Charles lends money, gives free legal advice, and when he learns that a young girl has been left alone takes her under his wing. The film is far from a political tract: the moral superiority of the proletariat over the middle class is not a given-in his low-rent quarter Charles' prized bicycle is stolen, and he's falsely accused by malicious neighbors of pedophilic intentions towards the girl he helps. Darroussin performs with assurance and control. The Premonition is an actor's film-the discreet directorial style delivers the story without flashy flourishes, but the ambiguous ending adds another layer to its twist-ridden and intriguing complexity.