Sunday, November 22, 2009


War drama
Original title: L’Armée du crime

In June 1940 German forces outflanked the Maginot Line and with their Italian allies overcame the French forces offering little resistance. On June 25 an armistice was signed between France and Germany. The terms of the agreement divided France into occupied and unoccupied zones, with a rigid line of demarcation between them. The Germans would directly control three-fifths of the country, an area that included northern and western France and the entire Atlantic coast. The remaining section of the country would be administered by the French government at Vichy under Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain.

Other provisions of the armistice included the surrender to the Germans of all Jews living in France. The French Army was to be disbanded except for a force of 100,000 men to maintain domestic order. The 1.5 million French soldiers captured by the Germans were to remain prisoners of war. The French government also agreed to stop members of its armed forces from leaving the country and instructed its citizens not to fight against the Germans.

Virginie Ledoyen: Mélinée
Simon Abkarian: Missak Manouchian her husband and leader of the group
Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet: the team’s explosives expert Thomas Elek
Ariane Ascaride: Tomas’ mother Madame Elek
Robinson Stévenin: another member of the group Marcel Rayman
Léoplod Szabatura: his younger 14-year-old brother Simon
Lola Naymark: Monique Stern, the sole female in the group
Yann Trégouet: Nazi collaborator Commissaire David
Jean-Pierre Darroussin: another collaborator Inspecteur Pujol

This film about the Parisian-based branch of the French Resistance (the so-called Army of Resistance but not by the Nazis and their collaborators) never really gets going.

Each new recruit gets to tell “their story” seeming compelled for some obscure reason having to justify their becoming a member of the gang. This lack of focus, devoting so much time exploring the motives of the twenty-one in the group serves no useful purpose except to make the story convoluted, confusing and overlong at 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Instead of action, we get flashbacks and a lot of words with surprising little tension despite what they are up to.

for brief nudity and one particularly gruesome torture scene.

Prior to the repercussions following the July 20 attempt at Hitler’s life, a Nazi army officer saluted with the right hand palm facing forwards and the fingers almost touching the eye. When his subordinate approaches the commandant he mistakenly gives him the naval salute, with palm of the hand facing downward.

Yid is a derogatory slang word for a Jew.

Although generally regarded as war heroes fighting a losing battle, most of the population just wanted to survive the war and disliked the résistants, who provoked dangerous and deadly German retaliation.

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