Persecution -- Film Review

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Venice Film Festival -- Competition

VENICE -- Everybody persecutes everybody else and they all feel persecuted in Patrice Chereau's talkative roundelay "Persecution," which stars Romain Duris and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a Parisian couple who spend more time talking about their relationship than getting on with it.

Charismatic stars and the film's Gallic shrug of acceptance over the difficulties that being in love creates will take the film to festivals and art houses, but it's far from a classic.

Duris plays Daniel, an independent guy who lives from hand to mouth renovating apartments, and seems happy that way. He even takes time to be a volunteer visitor at a retirement home, and his very insouciance draws men and women to him including longtime girlfriend Sonia (Gainsbourg), whose job means she travels a lot and she's kind of glad about that, too.

Daniel has a cluster of friends including accountant Michel (Gilles Cohen), who spends all his time grousing that he cannot be like Daniel, and Thomas (Alex Descas), whom Daniel calls "brother" but seldom sees.

Working on two jobs at the same time, Daniel is disturbed to discover that a stranger (Jean Hughes Anglade) is stalking him. Soon, the man has broken in to one of the places and is declaring his love for Daniel, who responds violently.

The willingness of everyone he knows to place Daniel at the center of their lives becomes a persecution of its own though he berates himself for persecuting all of them. He increasingly encounters strange incidents on the Metro and Paris streets, but they seem only to puzzle him.

A requisite nude love scene between Duris and Gainsbourg adds little insight, and their constant bickering grows tiresome. Daniel's tolerance of the stranger's annoying intrusions seems a bit odd even though he opens up to him about why he volunteers at the retirement home.

Some viewers might end up feeling a bit persecuted themselves, including this one.

Production company: Movie Movie
Sales: Vendite International
Cast: Romain Duris, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jean Hughes Anglade, Gilles Cohen, Alex Descas
Writer-director: Patrice Chereau
Writer: Anne-Louise Trividic
Producer: Bruno Levy
Director of photography: Yves Cape
Production designer: Sylvain Chauvelot
Music: Eric Neveux
Costume designer: Caroline de Vivais
Editor: Francoise Gedigier
No rating, 100 minutes