Customer Reviews: Towards Zero (L'Heure Zero)
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4.1 out of 5 stars9
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TOWARDS ZERO (L'heure zéro) Is the updated French version of Agatha Christie's 1944 novel by François Caviglioli, Clémence De Bieville, Roland Duval and Nathalie Lafaurie as directed with style and panache by Pascal Thomas. Instead of England the action is transferred to the breathtaking beauty of Brittany, France. Not only does the magic of Christie's mystery remain intact, but it is enhanced by the significant rugged coastlines of the area (captured beautifully by cinematographer Renan Pollès) as the setting for the mansion overlooking the sea where the action takes place.

Guillaume Neuville (Melvil Poupard), the favored relative and heir to Aunt Camilla (Danielle Darrieux) who in her declining years lives in the Brittany estate under the care of Marie-Adeline ( Alessandra Martines) and her servants Heurtebise (Paul Menthe) and Emma (Valériane de Villeneuve) - the latter two making one of the finest comedy teams on film, comes to visit his aunt with his current wife Caroline (Laura Smet) while also inviting his mysterious former wife Aude (Chiara Mastroianni). Aunt Camilla favors the Aude, a fact that throws the tempestuous and obnoxious Caroline into tantrums. There is considerable background history of this family and friends that gradually all comes together in the end. But the incident that triggers the story is the murder of Aunt Camilla, an act that leaves nearly everyone in the full house as a suspect.

Enter Le commissaire Martin Bataille (François Morel), who goes about his investigation singing a tune created from the names of Agatha Christie's famous detectives - Hercule Poirot, Miss Marples, and, oddly, Colombo. The murder weapons are recreated, the events of the night of the murder are studied, and gradually the true murderer is uncovered in typical Christie style. There are many clues, versions, suppositions, old family secrets, current interrelationships and pointed facts that leave the audience wondering not only who the murderer is but also the motive of the crime.

It is a pleasure to watch the finest French actors (in addition to the ones mentioned the cast includes Clément Thomas, Xavier Thiam, Hervé Pierre and others) have a great time with this story and the sets, costumes, Brittany scenery, and the musical score by Reinhardt Wagner make this a delectable bonbon of a film. Grady Harp, January 11
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on February 15, 2011
Towards Zero (L'Heure zero) is a nice, surprisingly faithful adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel. The plot involves a house party with plenty of hidden jealousy and back-biting. First a dinner guest dies from apparently natural causes, then a woman is brutally murdered. The question is, are these deaths simply leading up to something bigger?

The acting in this movie is uniformly good. The tone is not as constant, with the drama occasionally undercut by the "humor" of the servants. There's also a strange band of musicians wandering about the countryside on a roaming carousel, for reasons I don't fully understand, but maybe the director just had some friends looking for work. This film is unrated; I should note that the violence is minimal, even with the murder. There is a brief topless scene (which is actually used for character development rather than titillation), and there is an implied sexual encounter, although nothing is seen. The English subtitles are very well-done: large, easy to read, and in sync with the actors.

All in all, this is a well-done cozy mystery and a fine way to spend a couple of hours.
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on September 7, 2013
I was thrilled to find this Agatha Christie genre in a French movie with some of my favorite French stars, the grande dame Danielle Darrieux and rising star Melvil Poupaud. Of course, the French nuances make it more interesting when you compare it with a BBC Anglophone treatment of a murder mystery. A real treat for this Francophile.
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on September 5, 2010
If you like suspense right up to the end then this is a movie for you. The French subtitles are a little fast but otherwise a good rental.
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on January 27, 2013
This is a stylish, smart, gorgeously photographed remake of a famous Agatha Christie mystery. The cast is all first rate, the setting--the Brittany coast--is spectacular, the house is wonderful and there are even some comic additions, mostly from the two servants. I haven't seen the original British film but I can't imagine that it could be any better than this. I recommend it for two hours of good entertainment.
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on April 11, 2014
This was very well acted and filmed, and unusually true to the book. When I got to the end of the book (long before seeing this movie), chills went right up my spine. In the movie, had I not known the ending, the suspense would have been almost unbearable !! This production is unusually true to the story. I almost didn't watch it - I was put off by the cartoon-y cover and expected to be disappointed - especially when the movie started and I was distracted by the subtitles over the original French script. However, I was soon very impressed. It's not a perfect re-telling... but next to just two others (David Suchet's Peril at End House and also his ABC Murders) it brushes up next to perfection. It's perfectly cast, with only very slight deviations from the story. I don't believe the lower ratings are deserved. This is absolutely worth watching for anyone who is an Agatha Christie fan.
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What's not to enjoy about this French film? A classic Agatha Christie mystery, breathtaking scenery of Bretagne coast, a gorgeous French seaside chateau, comic French servants, a cast of eccentric suspects, and enough surprises to keep you guessing. It's a fun way to improve your French. There's several mysteries to solve with some ingenious plotting. There's a bit of a French farce about it. 4.5 stars.
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on September 27, 2012
It's subtitled rather than dubbed. Christie should be left to the Brits to dramatize because the Americans and French over-act and destroy exceptional mysteries.
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on January 4, 2015
Really well done. Sit back, relax and match wits with Agatha Christie!
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