Film on French criminal opens
“Public Enemy Number One”, a biographical movie on notorious French criminal Jacques Mesrine, opens on Wednesday.
23 October 2008
PARIS – Former French criminal Jacques Mesrine, a bank robber, kidnapper and killer who first gained notoriety in Canada, is featured in a biographical movie that opened Wednesday.
Gerard Depardieu plays a gangster in the movie titled "Public Enemy Number One", while Vincent Cassel plays the title role of Jacques Mesrine, who was killed by police in 1979.
The first installment of a two-part biopic directed by Jean-Francois Richet is subtitled "Mesrine: The Death Instinct", after the autobiography the robber wrote in prison shortly before his final escape.
The drama begins with his death in a police ambush near the Paris flea market, before returning to his early life as a soldier in the French army in Algeria in 1959.
After military service, Mesrine returns to his native Paris, where he was born into a middle-class family in Clichy, and turns to criminal activity.
Mesrine begins with burglary and robbery, serves time in jail, and settles into a criminal career that will take him across Europe and to the United States and Canada.
Mesrine was first named "public enemy number one" in Canada's French-speaking Quebec province, before returning to France to become a well-known criminal hunted by the police and criminal rivals.
The long-awaited film on Mesrine on Wednesday caused much excitement in the French media.
The left-wing Liberation printed the story on its front page. It featured a black and white photo of the real Mesrine, pointing his gun at the camera.
Le Monde said the movie about the French "legend" was a "brilliant stylistic exercise which has the intelligence to emphasise ... the bitterness of a man who, in an era that lacked grandeur, throws himself into criminal action just as other people drown themselves".
[AFP / Expatica]