A Film Review of A Crime – a Movie about Violence, Obsession, and a Fall Guy

Jan 07, 2011 by Tom Jones

A Crime, staring Harvey Keitel as Roger Culkin, Emmanuelle Béart as Alice Parker, and Norman Reedus as the character, Vincent Harris, deals with matters of the heart and head in which the characters are all blinded to due to their non-connectedness.

The film was directed by Manuel Pradal, and was written by Tonino Benacquista and Manuel Pradal. The full cast and crew are listed here.

Norman Reedus’ character, Vincent, wife is brutally killed one evening right before he returns home. As he approaches his countryside home, he notices a passing taxi as he gets closer to his house, where he discovers his wife’s dead body.

Afterward, he can’t move on with his life until he catches the killer, whom he remembers had several distinct characteristics from the passing cab that evening which Vincent recalls.

3 years later, we find that he’s moved and now lives in Brooklyn, New York City, where across from his building, there lives a mysterious yet dysfunctional woman named Alice, played by Béart, whose persona exhumes a stagnant world-weariness that’s curiously attractive, where they’re her character, Alice and Vincent are friends and can also literally see each other in their respective apartments.

She is obsessed with and wants to be with Norman (Reedus), but knows that’s not possible until he’s able to solve the murder of his wife.

Soon, the machinations start–Béart needs a fall guy to satisfy Vincent’s character’s vengeance. So she picks a random cab driver, played by Harvey Keitel, as Roger, and proceeds methodically to recreate the symbols and physical affects which Vincent remembers about both the taxi driver, and the car that he passed before he found his wife murdered in cold blood.

It was a Taxi with a blue scratch on the side, and the driver was wearing a ring with a large stone on his finger along with a red jacket. .

Although Vincent has had a detective’s help him to solve the crime, nothing comes to pass, and the case becomes cold.

So Vincent, (Norman Reedus), passes his time training his dog for dog betting racing on the beach, which occupies the majority of his days.

Norman Reedus’ character, Vincent, is played with a distinct and particular manner of what one would expect a victim of a violent crime would behave–with a detachment from both himself and the world. So true to his part, Reedus’, (Vincent), is true to form and does not disappoint the viewer with his role.

Because he lives in the building directly across from Alice, (Emmanuelle Béart), they communicate by phone and talk to each other a lot , as Alice frequently takes care of his dog so their physical and emotional contact is constant.

Then the plot spins and twists–Alice finds a cabbie, Roger, played by Harvey Keitel–who projects danger–and pursues him so he thinks that she’s fallen for him.

Hence, the thriller aspect of the movie is thrown into the mix, because the viewer is never quite sure if he is indeed the culprit of the murder–ergo:–”The Crime.”

So Alice makes love to him, plies him full of liquor although he’s sworn off alcohol, puts a dent into the exact side of his cab that Vincent saw, and she also buys him a red jacket and ring that match the objects and things which Vincent remembers the evening his wife was murdered,

After Emmanuelle Béart (Alice), was able to get Roger passed out in the cab after they’ve made love, she makes sure that the cab is found near where Vincent hangs out, and he, of course notices everything that Alice wants him to notice, to think he’s found the killer of his wife.

Then, Vincent subsequently pushes Roger’s (Keite’sl) car into the Hudson, with the hope that Roger, (Keite)l, drowns, not before having his friends beat Roger to a pulp and dumping him in the car’s trunk before rolling it into the River.

By forcing Vincent to encounter Roger, Alice through inventing and then framing a culprit, releases Vincent from his past so she can stay and be with him.

After she, Vincent, and the cop, all think that Keitel’s character, Roger, has drowned—he has not.

In the meantime, Norman feels attached to the world again, and takes renewed enthusiasm for having Alice as his girlfriend and vice-verse.

Except for one minor detail.

Roger, Keitel’s character didn’t die during Alice’s escapades and dangerous set-up. As viewers, we do constantly wonder if Roger is the culprit, or the fool, or both–because he projects mystery, danger and darkness–generally speaking he’s a messed up loner.

I thought Keitel’s performance was good, because he was who he was, a man living in a world that long had passed him by. His character seemed authentic, as he escorted Alice from one strange club to another.

Vincent’s role was subdued but emotionally believable, as he portrayed a life not of his choice; but of a choice that was put upon him by circumstance, and his character never seemed uncomfortable or out-of-place.

It’s Emmanuelle Béart’s portrayal of Alice, that was the much more complicated role, and her acting was suited enough for the role because of how the script was written–more so than probably her acting–although, her ability to convincingly exist in a duality–caught between Vincent and Norman–was handled by her with passing finesse; where another actress might be more squeamish caught in such a dangerous bind.

Nonetheless, when Norman returns to confront Alice, she confesses the Crime to him, and we expect him to kill her, but he just wants to run away with her and start a new life, because as he says in the movie, “Hey what’s better than having a fresh start, especially when everyone thinks your dead.”

Well, soon enough, he’ll get his wish as Alice still sees him and feels trapped between 2 worlds–Keitel’s character, (Roger’s), and the object of her affection, Reedus’, Vincent.

Sooner or later, we know the end will either be bad for Alice or good–and in the end, as Roger and Alice were parked in a cab after an evening making love and drinking, Alice’s character, Emmanuelle Béart, impales Roger in the back seat of the car with a steel pipe that she grabbed from a nearby fence, while Roger was sleeping in the back and murders him.

The movie’s methodical rhythm, the characters’ ability to interact with one another with a modicum of emotive feeling, and the undertow of danger, make the movie worth watching.

Although the movie takes place in Brooklyn, New York, the setting and the characters–especially Emmanuelle Béart’s portrayal of the doe eyed girl with the far away look–make the location, the lives, and the ways in which the characters live, often resemble a cathartic impression and glimpse into a group of people with collective ennui–who are all now involved, in one way or another, in “A Crime.”

But in the end, we come away somewhat satiated with a closure that we don’t see coming, and a plot that’s highly original, but as well, highly saturated in fiction more so than in real life.

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