The Big Picture 2010 Movie Scene Romain Duris as Paul Exben at the dock in a small coastal town in Montenegro

The Big Picture AKA L’homme qui Voulait Vivre sa Vie [2010]

Effortlessly complex and as deep as you want it to be, The Big Picture is a digestible exploration of what it means to be alive. And what it means to be you. Don’t worry, although it deals with these intricate issues, it doesn’t come off as pretentious or boring. It just is. We will be following Paul, a successful Parisian lawyer who soon finds himself in a desperate situation and is forced to make difficult decisions. I know, the plot sounds a bit formulaic but trust me on this one, it gets better and better.

The opening thirty minutes of The Big Picture are pretty intense and reminiscent of many older French thrillers. However, the movie slows down after this redirecting most of its energy into thought-provoking concepts. It’s based on a novel of the same name written by Douglas Kennedy. Although the original French title, The Man Who Wanted To Live His Life feels much better. Men and their issues with identity, I know right? I will spare you the usual rant about this, just check out Falling Down: A Man Past The Point Of No Return if you want to know more.

Fucking French, I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again: they can get away with anything. As someone who doesn’t like these drawn-out dramas, I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed every minute of this movie. It’s strangely compelling, enveloping you in this soothing viscous matter and taking you on a journey. It’s like you’re watching a novel come to life, a definition of a good adaptation.

Paul Exben is a young and successful man living his best life in Paris. He and his wife Sarah have a beautiful house and lots of good friends. And things are about to get even better for Paul as his boss tells him that she’s retiring and that she wants him at the helm. We all know that things can’t go so well for long and Paul starts suspecting that something might be off in his life. It starts with a simple hunch and soon devolves into a horrific string of events that will shake him to his core.

Technically almost flawless and visually appealing, The Big Picture is a movie that you’ll remember. You’ll remember it next time you find yourself in some situation and think about… Well, I really can’t discuss that because I don’t want to spoil anything for you. But you will remember it. Recently I checked out Seconds, John Frankenheimer’s movie posing similar questions. Now, I will admit that this movie hit me just at the right moment. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have liked it so much.

Again we’re following the proverbial man who has everything but actually has nothing. Not to mention the whole photography thing, it feels a bit edgy gen pop, if you know what I mean. And so on and so on, sniff sniff. However, The Big Picture somehow disarms you with its deliberate tempo, honesty and intriguing vistas. Plus, you keep thinking to yourself, is this me in ten years? Or maybe tomorrow?

Director: Éric Lartigau

Writers: Éric Lartigau, Laurent de Bartillat, Emmanuelle Bercot

Cast: Romain Duris, Marina Foïs, Niels Arestrup, Branka Katic, Catherine Deneuve, Rachel Desmarest

Fun Facts: Professional photographer Antoine d’Agata took the photos used in this film.


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