Laissez Passer

aka SAFE PASSAGE
Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Jacques Gamblin, Denis Podalydes, Charlotte Kady, Marie Desgranges, Ged Marlon
Director: Bertrand Tavernier

Those of us who thought that the 50’s was the only time that talented people were ‘blacklisted’ for their beliefs and/or religion and political stance will find LAISSEZ-PASSER a real enlightenment. In this case ‘Reds under the beds’ are replaced by the hounding of Jews as writers and composers by a German run film company in occupied France. This company, Continental Films calls all the shots (literally) in the movie business of this part of the world. Assistant director and resistance activist Jean Devavire (Jacques Gamblin) works for this company, summed up when a friend describes his existence as “in between the wolf’s teeth and avoid being chewed up”. Another major character, the immensely likeable screenwriter Jean Aurenche (Denis Podalydes) uses everything in his power not to work for Continental Films or the Germans. This is a story of how the two different characters survive in wartime France.

From the opening bombing scene by the RAF, one of the most realistic I have ever seen, this is an intelligent and compelling piece of cinema, whose cast are made for the roles they play. Each individual player brings something to even the smallest role. There is not one player who doesn’t add something to the overall feel of the title, so it is impossible to list them all, but the two leads are very impressive.

This excellent film was directed by Bertrand Tavernier who brought us ROUND MIDNIGHT and D’ARTAGNAN’S DAUGHTER and should please those who are already fans, but really impress those who are willing to take a chance on a film who’s 170 min running time.

Dr Kuma’ s verdict: Should be a safe passage for greater glory after winning several other awards.

4 out of 6 stars

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