Towards Zero (L'Heure Zero)
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A dazzling mix of shocking family drama, picturesque seaside landscapes and three generations of brilliant French actresses - the luminous Chiara Mastroianni, sexy ingénue Laura Smet and grand dame Danielle Darrieux - Towards Zero (L'Heure zero) is a smart, smoldering and thrilling update of one of Agatha Christie's most enduring works.
When Guillaume has the bizarre idea of inviting his ex-wife Aude (Chiara Mastroianni) to a family reunion at the luxurious coastal estate of his wealthy Aunt Camilla (Danielle Darrieux), his tempestuous new wife Caroline (a delicious Laura Smet) becomes filled with rage. Guillaume hopes that they'll become friends but the two women despise one another. But things turn ugly when Camilla is found dead in her bedroom - and only the trusty Inspector Bataille can put together the pieces. But as the Inspector untangles her mysterious death, he also begins to unearth dark family secrets, brewing jealousies, and perhaps even a murderer in their midst.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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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