- Colin Fraser
THREE AND A HALF STARS Abel's mother has just announced she's marrying a convicted felon. Abel's not sure that's a good idea.
COMEDY FRANCE French #THEINNOCENT
Starring Louis Garrel, Noémie Merlant
The fun found in this thoroughly funny French caper flick isn’t the heist itself - a couple of guys steal caviar at a truck stop - but everything that surrounds the event. THE INNOCENT remixes the best of French cinematic tradition with a healthy dose of self awareness and tonal diversions that probably shouldn’t work, but do.
Writer/director/star Louis Garrel plays Abel, a young man horrified that his mother, an acting teacher at a local prison, hasn’t just got cosy with another one of the inmates (she has form) but is, once again, engaged to marry. Convinced her beau Michel won’t tread the straight and narrow on release, Abel convinces his best friend Clémence to help spy on his suspiciously likeable stepfather. Unsurprisingly Abel is right and no less surprising, Michel catches them in the act and makes the pair an offer they can’t refuse.
THE INNOCENT is a heady mix of madcap, family, romantic and criminal comedy that may well be absurdly contrived, but it’s deliciously executed with enough tonal swerves to keep you on your toes (as you ought to be when there’s a job going down and you don’t want to wind up in prison alongside your stepfather). It’s this treatment and the way in which he weaves in philosophical threads that make Garrel’s script more than just another heist movie. It’s no coincidence that Abel’s mum teaches acting for instance, one of many noodling in the margins that makes this a more thoughtful entry in the caper genre.
If you like your madcap with a dash of romance and your romance on the nutty side, this delightfully breezy yet savvy confection has got it all. Throw in a terrific ensemble that includes TÁR’s especially engaging Noémie Merlant as Clémence, plus an over-generous side-serving of charm and wit, and presto, this year's most entertaining crime comedy.