In 2008, I watched an interesting and exciting French thriller called ‘Pour Elle’. The title in English was ‘Anything For Her’, and it starred Diane Kruger and Vincent Lindon. The story starts as a simple mystery. Happy couple Julien and Lisa are living a normal married life with their small son Oscar, when one day the police barge in, and arrest Lisa for murder. She has no idea about what she has been accused of, but the court finds her guilty, and she is sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Julien is distraught, and spends much of his time trying to find proof of his wife’s innocence. The film moves on three years, with no other evidence forthcoming, and Lisa still incarcerated. Flashbacks tell the viewer what actually happened, (no spoilers) but Julien still has no idea, and Lisa continues to protest that she is not guilty. In desperation, Julien contacts an author who has written a book about how he escaped from prison, and arranges to meet him. The man gives him lots of advice, so he embarks on a complex plan to free his wife from prison, by staging a escape.
With his plans going well, things are suddenly disrupted by the news that Lisa is refusing to take her Diabetes medication, and is due to be transferred in three day’s time to a different facility. Suddenly, Julien has only 72 hours to put his plan into operation. This is an exciting film that never stretches audience credibility too far. Full of tension, with a climax that will have you on the edge of your seat. It has a tight script, good editing, and skillful direction from first-time film-maker Fred Cavaye. Well-worth watching, if you ever get the chance.
Just two years later, in 2010, a remake was released in America. Starring Russel Crowe as the husband, and Elizabeth Banks as his wife, it was written, produced, and directed by Paul Haggis, who changed the title to ‘The Next Three Days’. The supporting cast featured such luminaries as Brian Dennehey, and Liam Neeson. It was filmed in Pittsburgh, and contained two major changes to the story that Haggis preferred. Otherwise, it is much the same film, and in many cases, scene by scene similarity is evident. So, a good film perhaps, but one just made so that people could watch the same story (almost) without subtitles. Crowe is no better an actor than the craggy faced Lindon, and Kruger is arguably more convincing in the role of the wife than Banks. It’s not a bad film, and if you had never seen the original, you might have found it fresh and original. But I had, so didn’t.
So, is it pointless? I thought so, but maybe you won’t agree.