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The Big Picture(2010)
Paul Exben is a success story - partner in one of Paris's most exclusive law firms, big salary, big house, glamorous wife and two sons straight out of a Gap catalog. But when he finds out that Sarah, his wife, is cheating on him with Greg Kremer, a local photographer, a rush of blood provokes Paul into a fatal error. Standing over the corpse of his wife's lover, Paul knows that his perfect life has gone for good. But by assuming the dead man's identity and fleeing for an isolated part of former Yugoslavia on the beautiful Adriatic coast, Paul gets another shot at being himself and, at last, seeing the big picture.
For more about The Big Picture and the The Big Picture Blu-ray release, see the The Big Picture Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on February 16, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Romain Duris, Marina Foïs, Niels Arestrup, Catherine Deneuve
Director: Eric Lartigau
» See full cast & crew
The Big Picture Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, February 16, 2012
Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and nominated for Cesar Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Writing - Adaptation, Eric Lartigau's "L'homme qui voulait vivre sa vie" a.k.a "The Big Picture" (2010) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original UK theatrical trailer; video interview with director Eric Lartigau and writer Douglas Kennedy; making of feturette; and a video interview with actors Romain Duris and Marina Fois and director Eric Lartigau. In French, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Paul Exben (Romain Duris, L' auberge espagnole, Exiles) is a young and rich Parisian lawyer with a beautiful wife (Marina Fois, Le code a change)and two small children. In a couple of days he is going to become even richer because his dying partner (Catherine Deneuve, Belle de jour) will give her shares of their firm to him. But on the night when he brings the news to his wife, he discovers that she is having an affair. Before he could get upset, she asks for a divorce.
A couple of days later, Paul meets his wife's lover, Gregoire (Eric Ruf, My Angel), a professional photographer, who has been working hard to secure an important job outside of France. The two talk. Then moments before they part ways, Paul accidentally kills Gregoire.
Fully aware that there is no time to lose, Paul places the body in a large plastic bag and stuffs it in a freezer. Then he meets his partner and informs her that he won't be taking over the company because he has changed his mind.
Going forward, the film becomes completely unpredictable. We realize that Paul isn't going to turn himself to the police, but we have absolutely no idea what is going on in his head. He moves quickly and sees things that we don't.
After he gets rid of the body, Paul gets a new passport, using Gregorie's name, and then heads to Montenegro. He rents a small house in Kotor, a sleepy town nestled in a beautiful valley, and begins taking pictures. By now it is clear that Paul always wanted to be a photographer, not a lawyer. It is also clear that he misses his wife and children.
In Kotor, Paul is approached by Bartholome (Niels Arestrup, A Prophet), another Frenchman with a serious drinking problem, who turns out to be the editor of a local newspaper. He begins asking a lot of questions that annoy Paul, but while sober he also manages to send a few of his photographs to Ivana (Branka Katic, Black Cat, White Cat), another editor. She passes the photographs to a local gallery owner, who immediately offers Paul a contract. The owner of a bigger gallery in London also becomes interested in Paul's work. Slowly but surely, it begins to look like Paul is once again going to be successful. But there is a small problem – everyone believes that he is Gregoire.
Eric Lartigau's The Big Picture is a truly unpredictable French thriller that reminds about Guillaume Canet's excellent Tell No One. It is essentially the tale of a man who is forced to abandon everything he has ever known and begin a new life. In the process, there is a very interesting moral dilemma he faces, which is what the film focuses on.
There are some interesting observations in the film about anonymity in the age of internet and digital activism as well. As Paul quickly discovers after he arrives in Montenegro, it is virtually impossible to remain unnoticed for a long period of time. The only unknown as it seems is how one would be 'discovered'.
Predictably, Duris is excellent as the successful lawyer and later on photographer on the run. Arestrup is also convincing as the French editor who cannot stop drinking and asking questions. Katic has a small part in the film but does the most of it. Deneuve appears only in a few scenes and looks appropriately exhausted.
Note: In 2011, The Big Picture earned Cesar nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Niels Arestrup) and Best Writing - Adaptation (Eric Lartigau/Laurent de Bartillat).
The Big Picture Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.34:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC anbd granted a 1080p transfer, Eric Lartigau's The Big Picture arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
The film favors a variety of cold and warm colors, and as the action movies from France to Montenegro, contrast and sharpness levels fluctuate. But, obviously, these are intended tonal changes that enhance the tense atmosphere. Detail, however, is consistently pleasing, with many of the close-ups conveying good depth (see screencaptures #1 and 4). There are beautiful panoramic vistas from the small town in Montenegro that also look notably fluid. Aside from a few tiny artifacts popping up here and there, there are no serious technical flaws to report in this review. There are no traces of problematic digital tinkering either. All in all, this is yet another strong Blu-ray release of a contemporary European film by Artificial Eye. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B "locked" or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Big Picture Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (with small portions of English and Serbian). For the record, Artificial Eye have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is potent and boasting a wide range of nuanced dynamics. Evgueni and Sacha Galperine's beautiful ambient music score, in particular, benefits enormously from the loseless treatment. During the final third of the film, after Paul is forced to leave Kotor, there are a few sequences with pleasing surround activity as well. Still, the French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track will not test the muscles of your audio system. For the record, there are no sync issues or problematic audio dropouts to report in this review. The English is excellent.
The Big Picture Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Big Picture Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Eric Lartigau's The Big Picture begins as a thriller and then evolves into a very different type of film. It is terrifically acted and wonderfully lensed. It is also complimented by an excellent ambient soundtrack. I liked it. As usual, Artificial Eye deliver a solid Blu-ray release. At this point, I just wish they would start releasing all of their films on Blu-ray. Great distributors with a great catalog of classic and contemporary films. RECOMMENDED.
The Big Picture Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Big Picture Blu-ray (Updated) - February 11, 2013
MPI Home Video has revealed that it plans to bring to Blu-ray Eric Lartigau's thriller The Big Picture (2010), starring Romain Duris, Catherine Deneuve, Niels Arestrup, Marina Foïs, and Branka Katic. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores ...
• The Big Picture Blu-ray - September 15, 2011
Independent British distributors Artificial Eye will release on Blu-ray Eric Lartigau's L'homme qui voulait vivre sa vie a.k.a The Big Picture (2010), starring Romain Duris, Catherine Deneuve, Niels Arestrup, Marina Foïs, and Branka Katic. Last year, the film was ...
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