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Mesrine : L'instinct de mort

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Mesrine : L'instinct de mort

Sponsored by: Scene

Montreal Premiere

  • France / Canada/ Italy2008
  • 113 min
  • 35mm
  • French with English subtitles
Hosted by actor Roy Dupuis

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


DramaCrime / Thriller

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« Le film de Jean-François Richet est tout à la fois menaçant et excitant [...] » — Didier Péron, LIBÉRATION

"Mesrine is in the tradition of Jules Dassin's Rififi or Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Cercle Rouge: muscular, forthright storytelling, hard-smoking, hard-drinking action..." — Peter Bradshaw, THE GUARDIAN

« Une vraie réussite. » — Jean-Marc Lalanne, LES INROCKUPTIBLES


Director: Jean-François Richet
Screenplay: Abdel Raouf Dafri, Jean-François Richet, from Jacques Mesrine
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Gérard Depardieu, Cécile De France, Roy Dupuis, Gilles Lellouche
Producers: Thomas Langmann
Print Source: Alliance-Vivafilm



Jacques Mesrine was surrounded by weapons and violence his whole life. He came of age under the German occupation of France during World War II. He served his country in Algeria, where he was ordered to perpetrate all manner of viciousness, often on inno-cents. Back in France, he fell in with various elements of the criminal underworld. In Quebec, he became tight with the FLQ. Every time he tried to straighten out his life, fate led him back to crime. Surrounded by weapons and violence his whole life, he chose very early on to be on the right side of the barrel of a gun.

Liberally adapted from the man’s autobiography, MESRINE : L'INSTINCT DE MORT reveals how Jacques Mesrine built his own legend. It begins with his return from Algeria. Mesrine (Vincent Cassell) reconnects with his buddy Paul (Gilles Lellouche) and the two commit a few minor crimes. Mesrine is pleased with the easy money involved. Arrogant, unflinching, charismatic and smart, the young man has what it takes to succeed in crime. He comes into contact with Guido (Gérard Depardieu), an aging gangster who teaches him respect and becomes his mentor. When he finds himself on the wrong side of several underworld heavies, he bolts for Quebec with Jeanne (Cécile De France), his female mirror image. His path crosses that of Jean-Paul Mercier (Roy Dupuis), a member of the FLQ. In his new home, Mesrine is quickly declared public enemy number one—a title he certainly earned fair and square.

The life and times of Jacques Mesrine are fascinating. Screenwriter Abdel Raouf Dafri didn’t have to do any embellishing to create a wild, excitement-packed story here. Quite the opposite, in fact—he had to chop out all sorts of violent episodes. But the creators of MESRINE : L'INSTINCT DE MORT weren’t content with simply relating the facts of Mesrine’s life. Jean-François Richet (ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 remake) drew inspiration from French and American crime flicks of the ‘60s and ‘70s to summon up a propulsively rhythmic suspense that grips you from the start and doesn’t let go. He also made sure to have a top-shelf cast. Cécile de France (THE SPANISH APARTMENT), Gilles Lellouche (who voiced Zoran in LASCARS) and Roy Dupuis (MAURICE RICHARD) all deliver great performances, but the cornerstones here are those of Vincent Cassell and Gérard Depardieu. Only the great Depardieu could offer such an imperial presence and with his own grand turn, his best to date, Cassell proves he can stand as an equal next to his comrade.

—Nicolas Archambault (translated by Rupert Bottenberg)

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