The Scene of the Crime (1986)

Nothing ignites in this dull drama

As a fan of Catherine Deneuve, I finally got my hands on a copy of The Scene of the Crime, a film by Andre Techine. Techine films are hit-and-miss for me, but since the film includes Deneuve, I had high hopes.

The Scene of the Crime (Le Lieu de Crime, La Mauvaise Herbe) is told through the eyes of a thirteen year old boy, Thomas (Nicolas Gerardi) who’s off picking flowers in the countryside near his grandparents’ home, when Martin, an escaped convict (Wadeck Stanczak) grabs the boy and demands he return later with money. Thomas does manage to wheedle money from his grandfather, and his efforts to get that money reveal that this is a troubled boy who’s prone to storytelling, exaggeration and flat out lying. But Thomas is the product of a broken home–a father who doesn’t have much time for him, and a mother whose need for independence and self-expression led to the creation of a small nightclub–much to the dismay of her disapproving ex-spouse, parents and religious leaders.

Thomas returns to the escaped convict only to fall foul of another more violent escapee. Martin should take the hint and leave, but instead, he spies the gorgeous Lili Ravenel (Catherine Deneuve) and decides to stick around….

The Scene of the Crime fails on several levels. This ultimately unsatisfying film tries to depict Lili as a character who’s stifled by her life in the small town, and who falls so hard for the mysterious, passionate stranger (Martin) that she throws caution (let alone common sense and reason) to the winds. Somehow Lili’s actions don’t make sense, and Lili and Martin just don’t make a credible pair of lovers. Nothing against Martin. Lili’s husband also seems way off her circuit too. But perhaps that’s the problem; Lili just doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ anywhere–with her husband, child or lover. No wonder she wants to run away….
In French with subtitles.

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Filed under Catherine Deneuve, France

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