Lucas Belvaux’s On the Run is the first installment in a trilogy of films I’ll hereby refer to as the director-actor’s Trois Genres. Bruno (Belvaux) escapes from prison with the help of a friend and subsequently begins to settle old scores and reconnect with old flames in the town of Grenoble. Billed by Variety as an “economical, fast-paced thriller,” On the Run is anything but. Over the course of 24 hours, a brilliant Bruno uses his wits to repeatedly evade capture by a local police officer, Pascal (Gilbert Melki). Along the way, he befriends the man’s junkie wife, Agnès (Dominique Blanc), beats up his ex-girlfriend’s current husband and kills numerous individuals who stand in his way. The film’s ending is brilliant (Bruno outdoes the legal system and, in the end, is outdone by an uncontrollable act of fate), and Belvaux uses it to position On the Run as a kind of existential fable. As a genre exercise, it’s a ringing success—its serpentine editing, disciplined pacing and controlled aesthetic tonality beautifully mirrors Bruno’s methodical criminal master-mindedness—but the film lacks subtext. Bruno’s anger is so unjustified here and the character relations so thinly unexamined that a certain detachment works against this otherwise competently told story. But if the characters are ciphers, that’s because Belvaux fills in everyone’s blanks in the second and third parts of his Trois Genres. The director claims to be interested in what happens to characters after they walk off-screen, but these films don’t really benefit from the extra tidbits divulged in the second and third parts. On the Run, though, works better than An Amazing Couple and After the Life as a standalone creation, not only because it’s a solid genre piece but because none of the supporting characters’ behaviors are that out of the ordinary to suggest a context will be offered later.
- Magnolia Pictures
- 117 min
- Lucas Belvaux
- Lucas Belvaux
- Catherine Frot, Lucas Belvaux, Dominique Blanc, Ornella Muti, Gilbert Melki, Patrick Descamps, Olivier Darimont, Alexis Tomassian, Yves Clasessens
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