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Part 1 needs to be Seen with Part 2 and Part 3
noralee29 February 2004
"On the Run (Cavale)" is the first third of an engrossing experiment in story telling that crosses "Rashomon" with a television miniseries to show us an ensemble of intersecting characters over a couple of days to gradually reveal the complicated truth about each.

Writer/director Lucas Belvaux uses a clever technique to communicate just how differently the characters perceive the same situations-- they are literally in different movies and, a la "Rules of the Game," everyone has their reasons.

"On the Run"is a tense, fast-paced escaped con on-the-run Raoul Walsh-feeling film, with the auteur himself playing a Humphrey Bogart-type who can be cruel or kind; "An Amazing Couple (Un couple épatant)" is an Ernest Lubitch-inspired laugh-out-loud comedy of mistaken communication; and "After the Life (Après la vie)" is a Sidney Lumet-feeling gritty, conflicted cop melodrama with seamy and tender moments.

"Time Code" experimented turning the two-dimensions of film into three with multiple digital video screens. This trilogy is more effective in showing us what happens as characters leave the frame. Belvaux goes beyond the techniques used in the cancelled TV series "Boomtown" or the films of Alejandro González Iñárritu in "Amores Perros" and "21 Grams" with their stream-of-consciousness flashbacks character by character.

I don't see how I can deal with each film separately. Theoretically, one can see the three movies alone or independently out of order, but that would be like watching one episode of a series like "The Wire" or "The Sopranos" and wondering what the big deal is. Only a handful of patrons in my theater joined me in a one-day triple-feature; I guess the others have a better memory than I do that they could see each film on separate days, though a marathon does inevitably lead to some mind-wandering that could miss important clues and revelations so this is ideal for a triple-packed DVD.

On DVD we'll be able to replay the excellent acting to see if in fact the actors do shade their performances differently when particular scenes are enacted from different characters' viewpoints -- are these takes from the same staging or not? How is each subtly different that we get a different impression each time? Or are we bringing our increasing knowledge (and constantly changing sympathies) about each character to our impressions of the repeating scenes?

One reason this conceit works is because of the unifying theme of obsession - each character is so completely single-minded in their focus on one issue that they are blind to what else is happening even as they evolve to find catharsis. One is literally a heroin addict, but each has their psychological addiction (revenge, co-dependence, hypochondria, jealousy).

The slow revelation technique also works because of the parallel theme of aging and acceptance of the consequences of their actions, as some can face how they have changed and some can't change. You need to see all three films to learn about each character's past and conclusion, as secondary characters in one film are thrust to the fore in another in explaining a key piece of motivation.

The only place they really interchange is in an ironically, meaningless political debate at the public high school they each have some tie to.
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What is terrorism ?
jfurioli_200020 January 2003
It is when you alone know the truth and the rest of the world is controlled by the enemy. You can trust no one since the enemy corrupts everything. You must use all means since the enemy is so much stronger than you. This film shows you from the terrorist perspective his path out of jail and back to his struggle from 15 years ago. First, you are with him, escaping the police, fleeing, contacting former comrades and then, little by little you get to know the face of his murders. The question is here: how can one justify such acts ? Well, Bruno, the terrorist, cannot. When he starts arguing, he can only repeat over and over the same mantras without confronting the reality under his very own eyes. And then the corollary question: if 15 years later, when the world has changed, a terrorist can resume his fight while he is the only one left, what to expect in a time where many think his cause is just ?
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An experience nearly successful
faniouge13 January 2003
This film (which can be seen as a standalone film) is part of a trilogy. Three films, not consecutive, but parallel. Three stories, simultaneous, with same actors, same characters. Main actors in one film are secondary actors in the two others. There are common scenes between each movie, but always shown in a different way, a different point of vue.

"Un couple epatant" is a comedy, with (Ornella Muti/Francois Morel),"Cavale" is a thriller, with (Lucas Belvaux/Catherine Frot), and "Apres la vie" is a drama, with (Gilbert Melki/Dominique Blanc).

You can see only one or two of these movies, but it is really better to see all of them, as each one enlights some dark moments of the two others. The supposed order is the one i used, but you can see these films in any order.

Individually speaking, the films are average (except "Apres la vie", the best one), but globally the experience is very good and very exciting.
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The 2nd part of a fascinating trilogy.
michel-crolais22 February 2006
Bruno le Roux, a former terrorist, has escaped from prison and he rediscovers his former hiding places where are his explosive and foods reserves. He returns to visits his former wife, Jeanne, who is now remarried and has a chid and works as schoolteacher. She has now abandoned the fight that she has done formerly with Bruno. Bruno contacts also Jacquillat, a local godfather who was before put up the money for the attacks. In fact, Bruno searches after the man who denounces the organization to the police to kill it. But, a policeman is searching him and Bruno is obliged to run away all the time and to kill all men that chase him. The movie is a captivating thriller and very well acted by Lucas Belvaux as are the first part (An amazing couple - "Un couple épatant") and the third part (After the life - "Après la vie"). The entire trilogy seems to me to be big movies.
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A unique thriller
amzo28 April 2003
I saw this film at the SF International Film Festival, and unfortunately was only able to this one film out of the trilogy. Yet I enjoyed this film greatly, and have not seen many thrillers like it. Using very little dialogue, it follows the life of a former militant leftist who just escaped from prison. He finds himself trying to live the same life he left 15 years ago, yet he finds trouble in trying to flee from the police and detectives. Very good cinematography and well acted. The ending itself is my favorite part (I won't give it away!), even though it may not follow what one would think to happen logically. I highly recommend seeing this film, and hope that I myself as well will be able to see the complete trilogy.
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wonderful film
sara s2 February 2004
too bad the subtitles did not include all the chatter (some of the police band radio, the tv, small bits of conversation) -- LOVED this picture which was shot, edited, directed and acted with clarity, economy and emotion played simply & directly. lucas did amazing work as both actor & director (& writer) and richly deserves the accolades he is getting on this project.

use of the location was also good, i actually recognised the gare de grenoble as they approached it on the train & one really got the feeling of being EN CAVALE with all the POV shots in the cars, on the train, going through the woods, climbing --
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Loved it...
CareySandwich12 February 2004
I generally don't consider myself the biggest fan of thrillers, but it seems that it may be due to my American upbringing. This makes me real bitter that intelligent, thorough, and stylistically unique films are being made elsewhere, but the American market doesn't seem interested because... why? The subtitles? The acting and writing are still better even if you do have to read the translated subtitles. You know what, I should boycott American movies for a while because I really haven't had much experience with foreign films, but of the last three films I saw, two of them were French, and one was from Hollywood. Guess which two were wonderful, and which one was God-Awful...

Cavale was one of the best thrillers I've ever seen. It was dark and shadowy and very well shot. It was full of humanity, which is another thing that American films seem to be lacking. One of the things I liked best about it was the underlying subtlety in the characters. They had tones and textures that really drew me in.

If you haven't seen Cavale, do so, you're going to love it.
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Superb entertainment
cmw-412 March 2004
This is just about the best film I have seen in the last 5 or so years.

The acting, direction, cinematography and editing are all first class and the unintrusive yet effective soundtrack music using just a double bass was inspired. Lucas Belvaux has produced a masterpiece and assembled a superb cast to bring the story to life. The final scenes as he climbed the snow-covered mountain made me feel as if I was there with him - brilliant. The quickest 2 hours in a cinema that I can ever remember. I am really looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.
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First part of an incredible trilogy
canoecarrier16 September 2002
This is probably the best place to start on Belvaux's incredible trilogy. On its own, it is a more than satisfying thriller, starring the director. But in context with the accompanying two films, one has to wonder where this guy has been hiding all this time. As the story unfolds you start to learn more and more of the lead character's persona, his motivations and his potential for destruction. This is no ordinary "action" film where the hero can do no wrong. At each corner it seems that his world is about to explode. Some people may be dissatisfied with the ending, but I think that it's exactly where the story has to go. And this is born out when you see the other two parts, Un Couple epatant and Apres la vie. If this trilogy gets the recognition it deserves, I'm sure it will be referred to as the cinematic masterpiece that it is, along with recent films like Memento and Amores Perros.
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Incredibly boring
BenidictGauchiet2 December 2003
I found this movie very slow moving and ultimately boring, i only stayed until the end because i figured it was building to an interesting climax but in the end it just petered out slowly, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. The cinematography was for the most part bland and TV-like, very uninteresting visually. However I liked some of the editing ideas and the sound design was very good, a lot of the action was told only with sound as there is very little dialogue. I found it very easy to get lost in the story, a lot of the actors are very similar physically and there's not much characterization to distinguish them. The sudden bursts of violence and action were well done, and in most cases shocking and realistic, they jolted me awake occasionly, unfortunately i just didn't really get the characters and their relationships, back story etc. Maybe more will become clear if i see the other two films in the trilogy. However i can't recommend this as a stand alone film at all.
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This trilogy reminds me something
searchanddestroy-17 February 2019
Actually this trilogy looks very the same as Nicolas Winding Refn's one called PUSHER. Watch this closely and you will notice that I am right. The main character in one of the three films is only a supporting one in the next movie; very interesting indeed. I guess there were more schemes like this one in other movies.
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EdgarST12 February 2018
Belgian film from 2003, the first part of a trilogy that I had never heard of and that was recommended to me by a cinéphile friend, precisely, from Belgium.With only this movie Lucas Belvaux is a candidate to enter my personal Olympus of Filmmakers. I do not know how the other two movies are yet but this one is good cinema, shocking, sober but extremely violent. It has been 15 years since it was made but it still stands as a solid production with a forceful story. Belvaux himself (who made an acting career in France) leads the cast as Bruno, a leftist ex-militant who escapes from prison, where he has served 15 years of a sentence. Outside the world changed, but not his head. Bruno returns to settle accounts to those who were traitors to the cause, to fight for the proletarian masses, to exterminate the oppressors: so convinced is the man that he unleashes a wave of violence and manifests features of extreme cruelty that catch you by surprise. Now I'm going for the second installment, in which characters that were secondary in the first one come to the fore. Winner of the Prix Louis Delluc and the award of the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics for Best Film of the Year.
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Well worth seeing, but much more so if you see the whole 'Trilogy'
runamokprods6 January 2012
The first part of Belvaux's 'The Trilogy', where three films with very different tones overlap some characters and incidents.

This first part is a taught, well made, violent thriller, following an escaped communist revolutionary, determined to return to the bombing and violence that put him in jail 20 years ago, while settling old scores with enemies, and re-contacting old allies.

Belvaux shows daring in not working to make his character very sympathetic, and allowing our initial almost automatic sympathy for our lead character to be ever more harshly challenged. We come slowly to realize this is a violent zealot, unmoved by the fact that the revolution that seemed to make sense as a young man now seems arbitrary and insane, and that his callous disregard for his victims isn't much of a start on a new world order.

In a vacuum, this dark, cynical noir would still be a good film, but with the next part of the Trilogy, it gains in levels and meanings.

There are real flaws here – a few plot twists are hard to buy, some character behavior unclear (although less unclear after part 2). A guy this smart wouldn't make a couple of the mistakes he does. And the score is frustratingly repetitious. But it's never boring, always involving, and with the next film, it's something more.
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Never lets up
tim-764-29185627 December 2010
Although being the first part of a trilogy, I'm reviewing 'On the Run' now, separately, as its the only part I've seen, as yet.

French cinema pioneered the perfect heist movie and whilst this is essentially more a fugitive chase after a jail break, it never lets up. It's quite complex, yet not impenetrably so and covers many contemporary issues such as police corruption and drug addiction. Films such as The French Connection, Ronin, Leon and Nikkita are all Gallic set or influenced and may have influenced Belcaux in the making of this. (I'd recommend all those titles on their own merit, too).

There's a stone-cold calculating ruthlessness about the lead, like Edward Fox's "Day of the Jackal" (French set, of course; comparisons can be made, though that film's sheer slickness isn't quite there). The French are currently doing some excellent crime drama but this takes it further as we are whistle-stopped around some wonderful Alpine locations. This allows us to breathe more freely, visually, but the action still zips along, culminating with a quite unexpected conclusion.

We know that there's an element of a political, possibly local terrorism cell that may get re-ignited running through this film and we're not told everything either, which adds to the suspense. Noted French financed films such as 'Battle of Algiers' and 'Z' have paved the way for, often paler Hollywood impersonations. This film isn't about shooting 'em up, Stallone style. It's multi-layered, with repercussions rippling outwards....

The near two-hour runtime doesn't drag and whilst there might not be the lead charisma, cleverness, wit perhaps or sheer scale of the very best US blockbuster, there are many memorable twists and turns and has a gritty sense of realism. Anyone currently in the U.K riding on the high of, say, Wallander, won't be disappointed.

I'm now very much looking forward to seeing the other two parts.
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Reactionary Revolutionary finds... nothingness.
Polaris_DiB3 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A man escapes from prison. He then tries to meet his old contacts and re-organize his underground inner circle involving drugs and revolution. However, he does this only to find that most of his fellows-in-arms are either dead, locked up, or have abandoned the revolutionary lifestyle and *GASP!* sold-out by getting families and jobs! Discovering this lack of societal significance, he is eventually forced to flee the country, after which he both literally and symbolically falls into a gap of nothingness. Aw, what a shame.

(That's it, by the way. That's the whole movie. Erm... spoiler alert?)

As a technical treat and a minimalist story, it has its value and it is interesting to watch. It's just a little obnoxious to follow a movie about a person grasping to uphold his values only to "randomly" (as a point) fall into a blank hole. I get it, but I don't care for it.

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Belvaux's trilogy: See all three together
culturedogs1 May 2004
Lucas Belvaux's trilogy of films is meant to be taken as one multi-faceted unit, and indeed it is best viewed as such. The first (as I saw them), "On the Run" ("Cavale"), is a `thriller,' and, indeed, the prison break that opens the picture has some thrilling chase sequences, and the denouement features a nerve-rattling gunfight with the main character, a convicted terrorist (Belvaux himself), escaped to settle scores and look up an old flame (Catherine Frot) who has settled down with a family. In between, we get our first glimpses of a relationship between the escapee and the drug-addicted wife (Dominique Blanc) of a down on his luck cop (Gilbert Melki), and the first hints of events in the second film, the romantic comedy, "An Amazing Couple." The trilogy ties up with a character study (or `melodrama'), "After the Life", about Melki's cop and Blanc's drug-addled wife. The thriller is hobbled a bit, I thought, by it's involvement with the other interwoven stories. All three, however, should be seen together. Or, as a friend of mine recommended, maybe I should just watch Kieslowski's `Three Colors' trilogy instead…?
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Ayckbourne Squared
writers_reign20 December 2003
If he didn't exactly invent/patent the concept of the trilogy using the same event(s) setting(s) and characters then Alan Ayckbourne certainly exploited it to the full and will be forever associated with the genre via such plays as 'The Norman Conquests' and 'House', 'Garden'. Lucas Belvaux borrows the concept and applies a touch of spin. In the Ayckbourne works the characters tend to have equal weight in each play so that when one walks offstage in a play set in the Living Room he/she will walk ON stage at the same chronological moment in a play set in the Garden. With Belvaux leading players of one part of the trilogie are reduced to spear-carriers in others. The PR says that each movie stands alone and may be viewed in any order. Yes and no. Perversely I saw them in reverse order, 3, 2, 1 and though it WAS clear what was going on it would certainly make for a richer viewing to see them sequentially. One: This introduces - however fleetingly - all of the principals but it is primarily the story of Bruno Le Roux (Belvaux himself) a political prisoner or terrorist depending on your point of view, who has busted out of the slammer and come to Grenoble to cut up a few old touches. Catherine Frot gets the Lion's share of the supporting roles as Jeanne Rivet who, 20 years ago, was part of the Revolutionary movement alongside Le Roux but now doesn't want to know. She is now teaching school and two of her colleagues, Agnes Manise (Dominique Blanc) and Cecile Costes (Ornella Muti) will figure peripherally in One and star in Two (Muti) and 3 (Blanc). Also important to the plot is Jacquillat (Patrick Descamps) an underworld character. Whilst on the lam Bruno stumbles across a man beating a woman savagely. He intervenes, realizes the woman is a junkey and the man a dealer. He beats the man and invites the woman to help herself from the dealer's stash. However, with cops crawling all over she has to dump the dope. She confesses to Bruno that her husband, a detective, has been supplying her for years but suddenly stopped. She takes Bruno home with her (husband is on the graveyard shift) and then borrows the key to a holiday chalet from a colleague (Muti), who is not best pleased to become involved in what she assumes to be a sordid liaison. Cecile has her own problems, a husband behaving erratically and she prevails upon Agnes cop husband, Pascal, to investigate. We now know all we need to enjoy (or not, as the case may be) Two: (the story of Cecile and erratic hubby) and Three: (The story of Agnes and Pascal). If Belvaux doesn't quite succeed in bringing off three genres - Thriller-Comedy-Polar then he makes a decent stab at it and joins the ranks of Actor-Directors led by Orson Welles with an honorable mention for Clint Eastwood. If you enjoy Policiers the chances are you will enjoy Three; if comedy is your thing the chances are you will be disappointed with Two; if Thrillers light your fire you'll probably like more than dislike One. 6/10
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