Thursday, August 6, 2015
Number One Fan (orig. Elle L'Adore) 
LaCroix.fr (C. Renou-Nativel) review*
LExpress.fr (C. Sautet) review*
LeMonde.fr (N. Luciani) review*
Liberation.fr (G. Renault) review*
LaPresse.ca (M. Cloutier) review*
EyeForFilm.co.uk (R. Mowe) review
The Hollywood Reporter (J. Mintzer) review
Number One Fan (orig. Elle L'Adore)  [IMDb] [AC.fr]* (directed and screenplay cowritten by Jeanne Herry [IMDb] [AC.fr]* along with Gaëlle Macé [IMDb] [AC.fr]*) is a rather _disconcerting_ (to an American / Anglo-Saxon sensibility) crime, stalker / celebrity "comedy" that played recently at the 2015 Chicago French Film Festival (July 31 - Aug 6, 2015.
Muriel Bayan (played by Sandrine Kiberlain [IMDb] [AC.fr]*) is a humble beautician in some town somewhere in the center of France. She has two kids but has arguably lost custody of them for reasons not entirely clear. What is clear is that she's been a BIG FAN of a fictionalized French pop singer named Vincent Lacroix (played by Laurent Lafitte [IMDb] [AC.fr]*). Indeed, after losing her kids ... she ... goes a concert of his.
Now Vincent Lacroix is introduced to us as a rather typical contemporary celebrity. He's does enjoy the fame of his public persona (likes signing autographs after his show), he's learned to be careful of overly obsessive fans (we learn later that he had a something of a French equivalent of a "restraining order" apparently put on Muriel some time in the past), and he's tried to build a private life away from the stage with his current "significant other" Julie (played by Lou Lesage [IMDb] [AC.fr]*) and other personal friends.
Yet it's an unstable mix and so, after what had been a "quiet night" at home with friends, Vincent and Julie get into a fight. As the argument progresses, she actually slaps him first but he responds by pushing her against a book case ... and a fairly large / heavy object (arguably an award ...) falls on her head, badly, and kills her.
OMG ... what now? "Fortunately" the friends are gone and he's alone there in the house with his now dead wife with the object that killed her lying at her side. If he calls the police, will they believe it was an accident? In anycase, the tabloids will have a field day with this.
SOO ... he decides that he's going to try to cover it up.
Enter Muriel, the somewhat simple-minded "fan" who Vincent had some time back placed a restraining order against. He pulls out one of Muriel's past obsessive fan letters (with her address on it ... she lived somewhere in the same town). He then wraps the body of his dead significant other in a thick blanket, puts in his his car, and drives in the middle of the night to Muriel's apartment building and rings her door bell.
"Hi this is Vincent Lacroix, I need to talk to you." Yes, it's the middle of the night, yes, it's VERY ODD that Vincent Lacroix was at her door BUT ... "OMG, VINCENT LACROIX's at MY DOOR!"
Vincent Lacroix asks her then: "Would you do something for me?" "OMG, yes!" "I want you to drive your car, tonight, to my sister's in Switzerland. There will be something in your trunk. I don't want you to see it. You have no need to see it. Just take your car to my sister's ... in Switzerland. I have everything explained for her in this (sealed) letter. She'll take your car and come back with it about a half an hour later (Vincent's sister and her husband ran a pet crematorium. Muriel has no idea of that, but the viewers know). And then you can go home. Would you do this for me?"
Somewhat confused but, starstruck, "OMG after all these years, restraining order and all, here's Vincent LaCroix IN MY APARTMENT," Muriel says yes.
Much ensues ...
What ensues would certainly be disconcerting for a fair number of Anglo viewers: MILD SPOILER here: Fortunately Muriel isn't a total idiot/doormat but she proves no saint or martyr either. Then of course there's the "great Vincent Lacroix" who clearly turns out to be quite an SOB (that's clear from what I described above). Add then the two police investigators put on the case (played by Pascal Demolon [IMDb] [AC.fr]* and Olivia Côte [IMDb] [AC.fr]*). After all, Vincent Lacroix's partner had "gone missing" and it becomes rapidly clear that _something_ had to have happened to her (a sudden stop in her cell phone and credit card activity). While clearly not incompetent, it becomes clear that they have "other" often random / stupid distractions that compete for their attention as they work on her case. And finally there's the police investigators' supervisor who seems to be above all concerned that her department "come-in under budget" for the year, RATHER THAN SOLVE CASES.
It all comes to feel very disconcerting. Here a person has died. We see how she died, and yes, it was _largely_ as a result of an accident. BUT the people around, both near (Vincent Lacroix) and progressively far (Muriel), the two police investigators and finally their supervisor, don't seem to care. All seem to be preoccupied with their own agendas, and well Julie was dead already anyway ...
Even though the film played very much like something of a modern "screwball comedy" ... it really didn't feel like "all that funny" at all ...
So it makes for a rather disturbing film by the end ...
* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser.
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