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Assault on logic: Anthony Zimmer

AnthonyZimmer.jpg"Anthony Zimmer's plot is, literally, unbelievable." - That's the tag line from an article I received from Arturo Sangalli, a fellow Film fan, like you all, who was moved to write about Anthony Zimmer after reading about the remake that was set in motion in Hollywood.

The Tourist is being written by Julian Fellowes, adapted from the French film Anthony Zimmer, and was once set to star Tom Cruise. Now the current line-up is Sam Worthington and Charlize Theron, you can read more about that right here.

Arturo saw the original and wasn't exactly impressed. Here's what he had to say.

Before we leap into the write-up, just to say that some may find a few spoilers in here for the original, although I've read it and I don't specifically feel like I've had anything blown for the story to come because it's a mixture of what I've already heard and also the fact that they are bound to change the story for the Hollywood version, aren't they?

Anyway, let's see what Arturo has to say about the original Anthony Zimmer.

The 2005 French movie Anthony Zimmer belongs to that fashionable category of thrillers where the viewer is led to believe something which in the end turns out to be completely false-the Gotcha! or surprise-ending kind. I am all for surprise endings, but please don't treat me like an imbecile.

Here's the story as it is presented to us. Anthony Zimmer is a drug smuggler who has devised a clever money-laundering scheme. But he has problems. The police are after him to recover millions of euros in illegal transactions, and the Russian mafia would like to eliminate him before he reveals some compromising facts.

Early on we learn from a police detective that Zimmer has undergone major plastic surgery to change his face and also (is this possible?) his voice. Enter Chiara Manzoni, Zimmer's girlfriend. She is at the train station restaurant when she receives a message: "They are following you [...]. Choose a man at random". Chiara then boards a train, sits opposite an ordinary-looking man and makes obvious efforts to attract his attention and engage in conversation with him.

The man, Francois Taillandier, on holiday with a flexible schedule, is easily convinced by the beautiful Chiara to spend the weekend with her in the Cote d'Azur. To us viewers, Chiara's intentions are as clear as her Italian name indicates: poor Francois will be the target of the mafia, who will mistake him for Zimmer-this is later confirmed by Chiara herself.

(We have earlier been shown an unsuccessful police raid into Zimmer's hideout: their prey had already fled. But not before leaving (how convenient for the cops), the name "Chiara" and her telephone number scribbled on a notepad on his desk. The police will follow the girl, hoping to catch his boyfriend. We have also seen a KGB agent with whom the police shared this information, even though they suspect him to work for the Russian mafia).

Sure enough, the Russian mobsters give Taillandier a rough time. He twice narrowly escapes death, first in the luxury hotel where he stays with Chiara, and later in the hospital, where he is sent after seeking help from the police following the first assassination attempt. Fast forward to five minutes before the end of the film. Surprise! We learn that Taillandier is actually none other than Anthony Zimmer.

Now, there are three problems with this ludicrous turn of events. In increasing order of disbelief, they are: First, How can a bright girl like Chiara not recognize his lover, his new look and sound notwithstanding? Second, Taillandier's attitude, actions (he goes to the police for help!) and general behaviour, especially when he is alone in a scene, are totally incompatible with his true identity (as it would be absolutely clear to anyone watching the movie for the second time). The film is not just telling a story, it is purposely and shamelessly deceiving the viewer. And third, when Chiara approaches Francois/Anthony in the train and he decides to play the game, he is bringing upon himself the very predicament he went to such great lengths to avoid: being recognized by his enemies! This guy either went crazy or is an idiot. Hadn't he just instructed Chiara to choose a man at random in order to throw his followers off the track?

Are the film's script writers also idiots? I don't think so. I suspect they are well aware of their plot's irreparably faulty logic, but they also know the vast majority of viewers won't either notice or care. After all, 99 percent of the film was rather pleasant to watch: it had its dose of suspense, the French Riviera with its luxury hotels and sunny beaches, the gorgeous Sophie Marceau, the popular scenes-chases, crooks and good guys shooting at each other; the music was not bad either, adding to the atmosphere. So what's a few moments of suspended logical thought compared to all that?

And yet, after watching the movie, Sophie Marceau and all, I felt cheated. C'mon guys, you can do better than that! If you wish to mislead me first and surprise me later, go ahead, but please, do it cleverly and honestly-don't insult my intelligence.

Thanks to Arturo Sangalli for that, it's a good piece. Have you seen the film, do you agree?



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