Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy No. 1 | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy No. 1 

The French gangster continues his life of crime

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The misadventures of Jacques Mesrine continue in Part 2 of Jean-Francois Richet's bio-pic. Booted from Canada, Mesrine (Vincent Cassal) returns to France in the early 1970s. A bungled robbery lands him in handcuffs, but he makes a dramatic escape. Another arrest, then voila! -- another escape, this time from a maximum-security prison. The cops dub him "public enemy No. 1" and the charismatic Mesrine basks in the attention. He essentially spends the rest of the decade committing crimes and escaping from the law (both while employing a variety of amusing disguises). He gets a new accomplice (Mathieu Amalric), and a pretty young girlfriend (Ludivine Sagnier).

Part 2 is brisker and lighter than Part 1, with Richet presenting Mesrine's well-publicized life of crime as entertainment in and of itself. There is less brutal violence in Part 2, and Richet suggests that Mesrine's worst crime may be his own ego. Mesrine mulls over contemporary revolutionary gangs (such as Bader-Meinhof and the Red Brigade) who usurp his headlines, and his ponderings finally give us some insight into his chosen career path. Even if these revelations aren't particularly unique, it beats the automaton cipher of Part 1.

The end, when it comes (a shorter version of the sequence opens Part 1), is a nice bit of filmmaking that tips its hat to carefully edited crime films that create tension and suspense from simply ordinary behavior stretched out as we fret. In French, with subtitles. Starts Fri., Oct. 22. (Screens in a double-feature with Part 1, Fri., Oct. 29, and Sat., Oct. 30.) Regent Square



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