Why remake a decade?: Mike questions the merit of RIVALS

RIVALS is a French movie that tells the turbulent tale of two brother, François and Gabriel, whose fraternal relationship is complicated by the professions they both adopt: François grows up to be a cop, and Gabriel a felon. The whole thing comes to an early head in a scene where François is called to an armed robbery only to find his brother is one of the criminals he is arresting, not only that his brother is the criminal being arrested who wets himself in fear. Oh the shame! The film then picks up ten years later when Gabriel is released from prison and his brother tentatively takes him under his wing as he attempts to go straight. Aside from being ridiculously melodramatic, the hook of this movie seems to be that it is set in the 70s and has faithfully recreated a 70s cop drama down to the smallest detail. The hair and clothes look great, the plot is over the top and occasionally a little clunky and, above all, the visual aesthetic looks great with its grainy film and sapped colours. So effective is the illusion, and the period acting by stars François Cluzet, Guillaume Canet, Marie Denarnaud and Clotilde Hesme, that the movie really feels like a 70s cop drama rather than a remake. Although this is to the credit of screenwriter/director Jacques Maillot, it begs the question 'why remake a decade?' We often read and write heatedly about the pitfalls of taking a movie that was already fine as it was and just recreating it, and it is usually agreed that by far the worst examples of this practice come when the remake doesn't bring anything new to the original (for example THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake ruined a great movie, THE HILLS HAVE EYES just took and twisted a mediocre movie). So why, then, should a nostalgia piece like this be tolerated? Sure I have a soft spot for the old school look of it, and there's something to be said for a simple plot, but surely we don't need any more melodramatic movies shot exactly as as they used to be - that's why the movie industry has moved on! Admittedly though, Jacques Maillot had a tough task adapting a fragmented novel about the trials of brotherly love into a coherent drama. Tying together disparate themes within the world views of a cop and a crook is a difficult task when both are basically going through the motions of living ordinary lives. Nonetheless it felt as if ideas were imposed on specific events, which were themselves crammed into a timeline without much craft and finesse. What's more they lacked the bite that such nuances were sacrificed for in their 70s counterparts (by and large the influences seem to me to have been TV shows rather than films). Overall it had me questioning the worth of RIVALS, as every one of the 106 minutes ticked past I felt like I needed a tea break from its self-indulgent binging on nostalgia and melodrama. It came as no surprise, therefore, to read in the production notes that Jacques Maillot originally wanted to adapt another novel about this criminal/cop brother dichotomy but couldn't get the rights and had to settle for this instead. He seems to have turned the final product into his cinematic version of sitting around in his pyjamas and eating tub after tub of fancy ice-cream. RIVALS is on limited release U.K. release from Dec. 5th.

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Michael J Edwards hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.