Critics CAN make good movies.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Former film critic Bertrand Tavernier's debut film from 1973, *The Clockmaker*, still stands as one of the best French films of the Seventies -- a decade that saw some pretty damn good French films. (The two intervening decades between then and now cannot make that claim.) Based on a novel by Simenon, the screenplay was written by Tavernier along with New Wave veterans Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost -- hence the occasional New Wavey jump-cuts and mannerisms, especially early in the film. But Tavernier -- a writer, after all -- soon calms down and does what all good writers do, which is to focus on character. He's helped considerably with this by two tremendous performances from Philippe Noiret as the titular clockmaker and Jean Rochefort as Lyons' chief police detective. Transplanted from the New York setting of Simenon's book to Lyons during "the last days of De Gaulle" (to quote the review below mine), the story is about the befuddlement of the town's widowed clock repairman whose grown son has apparently murdered a man. The son is on the lam with his girlfriend, leaving the father with no comprehension of why they did it. We soon learn that he has no comprehension of his son, period, despite the fact that the son still lives at home and that they are on relatively good terms. But "good terms" are not the same thing as involvement, knowledge, or caring. (Deftly, Tavernier makes a political parallel to the main plot with an interweaving theme about France's government during this period: French citizens are, according to the radio, "89% happy", but at the same time there are leftist insurgents and terrorists burning cars and striking factories.) The most interesting conflict in this character study is between Noiret and Rochefort's compassionate detective on the case: Rochefort, having an adult son of his own that he hardly knows, latches onto Noiret, perhaps hoping that the clockmaker's experiences in this awful situation might provide some insights for his relationship with his own kid. The main suspense in this "thriller" is whether or not Noiret will allow himself to be taken under the cop's wing. His son may get a lighter prison sentence as a result, but the compromises entailed in not standing by the kid will only widen the distance between them. So . . . an action-adventure about lovers on the lam? Hardly. Tavernier is interested in the deeper stuff. *The Clockmaker* is a difficult, thoughtful, emotional film that deserves wider recognition on this side of the pond. This DVD release from Kino will hopefully get that process started."
Tender Story of Parental Love and Liberation
Ann Elaine Rutledge | 05/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Noiret is superb in the role of a (single) father who quietly works towards reconciliation with his son, after adolescence and differences in their characters have put distance between them, when the son is charged with murder of a factory worker. Rochefort's (the cop) performance complements Noiret's. The main theme, exquisitely developed, is the challenge of authenticity in the love between parents and children; political alienation of the French working class people in the last days of DeGaulle is the (perhaps allegoric) secondary theme."
A clever film that goes far beyond the policial aspect !
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 03/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since his son is arrested due a political murder, his father-a watchmaker who lives in Lyon is mortified to learn this awful new.
He will employ all the tools ofhis office to analyze, scrutinize and inspect all the related issues of this political murder. This was the first feature film of this famous French director.
Overwhelming acting of Noiret,as always. A slow paced film which will reward you!"