Dir: Claude Schmitz | Cast: Marc Barbe, Louise Leroy, Kate Moran, Olivier Rabourdin, Tibo Vandenborre, Edwin Gaffney | France/Belgium 117′
This stylish neon-drenched detective thriller premiering in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight sidebar channels France’s ‘cinema du look’ phase of the 1980s, and stars Olivier Rabourdin as Gabriel Laurens a scuzzy Belgium-based private detective who finds himself caught up in a surreal drug-trafficking investigation when his niece, Jade (Leroy), asks him to investigate her father’s death in the South of France.
Just when Laurens thought the coast was clear to enjoy his semi-retirement he finds himself embroiled in the complex financial problems of his estranged drug-dealing twin brother Francois (also played by Rabourdin), and a dodgy series of lowlife characters ducking and diving between Perpignan and the border with Spain.
There’s a touch of Luc Besson’s Leon to his relationship with his niece and this gives the film some of its more nuanced and soulful sequences particularly their coastal limousine drive and nighttime cocktails where Laurens explains the tragic fall-out with his brother.
Naturally the Americans have to get involved, finding it impossible to stay their side of the Atlantic, and this introduces Laurens to his twin brother’s ex Shelby (Moran) and her hunky French henchman (Barbe and Vandenborre), and Scott (Gaffney) who feels entirely out of place in the narrative with his chipper nonsense and tales of derring-do in Afghanistan.
Amongst other sub-plots Scott also rubs up against Marc Barbe’s gang-leader who swears revenge for their cultural contretemps providing a racial touchstone. Full of anecdotes and dry humour (question: what’s the Spanish for ‘paparazzi’, answer: ‘paparazzo?). With an evocative score and clever twist to the tale The Other Laurens is a smart and good-looking thriller that refreshes the genre. MT
DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT | CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2023