Anything For Her
Review by Michael Edwards
THIS debut feature from French writer/director Fred Cavaye is a curious thriller about a young French family comprising father Julien (Vincent Lindon), mother Lisa (Diane Kruger) and their young son Oscar (Lancelot Roche).
They live a perfectly comfortable existence until one day Lisa is arrested for the murder of her boss. Understandably distraught, Julien attempts everything within his power to free her.
Initial legal attempts yield nothing, and in his frustration he decides that the only way to get his wife back is an audacious jail-break.
On the one hand, this is an exciting film because it’s about supposedly ordinary people being stuck in an extreme situation. Julien is sure Lisa is innocent, and he can’t live without her: but what can he do?
The question is so starkly raised that it is clearly jabbing a finger at the audience and saying ‘what would YOU do?’ And this does make the film more involving than watching the same story repeated with the usual array of wronged cops or hardened criminals, played by the same big names you’d expect.
On the other hand, it just adds another annoying layer of implausibility to an already far-fetched plot. As the plan unfolds the answer to the aforementioned questions increasingly becomes ‘No, I wouldn’t do that. I’m not insane!’
After all, it’s difficult to envisage how even the most stressed house-husband would gradually ignore his young son as he liaised with former inmates to devise a plan to break his wife out of prison and flee the country.
Another upsetting flaw in this thriller is that the characters aren’t built up strongly enough before tragedy strikes. The indication that they are sexually active despite having a young child, and the obvious fact that Diane Kruger is incredibly attractive, seem to be presented as reason enough for Julien to go crazy without her. Who knows, maybe Monsieur Cavaye is right, but a bit more of an emotional insight into the characters would have made the whole experience much richer.
However, the scenes in which Julien incrementally increases his insane pursuit of his wife’s freedom are portrayed with such gusto by Vincent Lindon that it’s difficult not to enjoy some parts of it. His confrontation with a drug dealer and his ultimate attempts to outwit the police are classic edge-of-your-seat moments which expertly build up the tension to breaking point.
Young son Oscar also serves up some nice moments of perspective which bring the plot back from la-la-land now and then. A visit to the park with Julien, who has finally been dragged from his scheming, sees the fatigued father brought to earth with a bump when he is chatted-up by a single mum.
Similarly, an attempt by Oscar to play the same game as his dad yields poignant, and slightly amusing, results. These instances give a little insight into the traumas of a broken family, but also give an insight into what the film could have been with some more care and attention. But they are welcome moments nonetheless.
Anything For Her is not an instant classic, but it’s an enjoyable thriller that provides something a little different from the norm.
In French, with subtitles
Running time: 97mins
UK DVD Release: October 5, 2009