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Mesrine : L’ennemi public n°1

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Mesrine : L’ennemi public n°1

Sponsored by: Scene

Canadian Premiere

  • France / Canada2008
  • 133 min
  • 35mm
  • French with English subtitles
WINNER: Best Actor, Best Director, Best Sound, César Awards 2008
WINNER: Best Actor, Tokyo Internationals Film Festival 2008
WINNER: Best Actor, Lumière Awards 2009
WINNER: Best Actor, Golden Star 2009
WINNER: Best International Actor, Irish Film and Television Awards 2010


DramaCrime / Thriller

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« [...] une puissance à couper le souffle. » — Caroline Vié, 20 MINUTES

“Such an unsentimental spin recalls Ferrara’s KING OF NEW YORK, and Richet shows throughout this roaring marathon that he’s not only learned from the genre’s masters but can match them, too” — Chris Roberts, UNCUT MAGAZINE


Director: Jean-François Richet
Screenplay: Abdel Raouf Dafri, Jean-François Richet, from Jacques Mesrine
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Ludivine Sagnier, Mathieu Amalric, Gérard Lanvin, Olivier Gourmet, Samuel Le Bihan
Producers: Thomas Langmann, Maxime Rémillard, André Rouleau
Print Source: Alliance-Vivafilm



Jacques Mesrine killed many men in his life. He robbed casinos and countless banks, he kidnapped people to extort money. He played the police, the judiciary and the public for fools. Mesrine spent his life surrounded by weapons and violence. It was inevitable that he should find himself on the wrong side of a gun. On November 2, 1979, he found himself on the wrong side of many of them.

After leaving an indelible mark on the judicial and correctional system in Quebec, Jacques Mesrine (Vincent Cassel) returned to France where, to his great satisfaction, he was quickly declared public enemy number one. Drunk on media attention, he nurtured his legendary reputation by way of shocking interviews. His famous charisma attracted the perhaps unhealthy admiration of many. He treated his court dates as public spectacles and brazenly announced his intentions to break out of prison—which of course he did. Several important encounters marked the final years of his life, including those with François Besse (Mathieu Amalric), Charlie Bauer (Gérard Lanvin) and Sylvie Jeanjacquot (Ludivine Sagnier), who would be his companion to the very end. A merciless psychological battle pitted him against Commisaire Broussard (a great turn by Olivier Gourmet), the two men sharing a surreal mutual respect. But underneath the Robin Hood image he cultivated and beyond his revolutionary reputation, Mesrine remained a gangster—nothing more, nothing less.

Even better than its predecessor, MESRINE : L'ENNEMI PUBLIC N°1 presents the last years of the notorious criminal. Though it delivers action, furious chases and gun battles galore, all crafted with exceptional realism, the second part of the Mesrine saga digs deeper into his intimate side. While he struggled to display himself as larger than life, Jean-François Richet reveals the man behind the myth and all his regrets, failures and contradictions. To achieve this aim, Richet needed a magisterial performance from his lead actor, and Vincent Cassell delivers, undergoing a radical physical transformation, projecting superstar charisma and gripping intensity.

On a technical level, the MESRINE films succeed in all respects. The agitated camerawork and powerful sound design toss the viewer into the heart of the action, while the art direction brings Mesrine’s era (1959-1979) vividly to life. The make-up is amazing, the editing dynamic and precise. Spend a few electrifying hours with one of the last of the old-school outlaws!

—Nicolas Archambault (translated by Rupert Bottenberg)

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