Starring Sophie Marceau, Yvan Attal
Anthony Zimmer was the film that served as the basis for The Tourist. And I'll admit, that was the main reason I wanted to see it. The Tourist was awful (see our review here), so I had to see the film it was based on. While I could list off the differences and why Anthony Zimmer was better than The Tourist, I'm going to review just Anthony Zimmer after saying just one thing; Anthony Zimmer is a far superior film to The Tourist.
The film opens to the authorities discussing the elusive Anthony Zimmer. They paint him as a clever genius, addicted not to money, but to the risk it brings. And while they want to bring him in, they mention that there are some Russians that he angered and want him dead. To complicate their task, they know Anthony has had plastic surgery, and his voice is changed, so he'd be impossible to recognize. Their only hope is his one weakness; Chiara Manzoni.
Chiara receives a letter from Anthony, telling her to take a train and find someone his height and build. She burns the note and boards the train, where she finds Francois Taillandier, a man on his way to a short vacation at a countryside bed & breakfast. They talk, and she convinces him to join her on her vacation on the beach. From there, Francois is plunged into a world where people think he's Anthony Zimmer, and finds himself running from both Russians and the authorities while dealing his growing feelings for Chiara.
The reason this movie works so well is that there is actual chemistry between Sophie Marceau (Chiara) and Yvan Attal (Francois). We can actually see the attraction between the two prinicple actors, it's strong enough to carry the film when these two are on the screen, and when they are by themselves we can understand their motives and reasoning. It also means there's less filler. The plot concerning the hunt for Anthony Zimmer can grow on it's own, almost as a secondary story, serving as the tension between Chiara and Francois, and why they can't be together.
Speaking of the hunt for Anthony Zimmer, by the time we're brought into the story it's already happening. We have the authorities, lead by Akerman (Sami Frey) racing against the Russians, headed by Nassaiev (Daniel Olbrychski). Both do a great job in their roles, adding to the plot and tension between Chiara and Francois. And both are strong and ruthless in their pursuit of Zimmer, willing to sacrifice almost anything to lure him into the open. While they don't get to grace us with their presence too often, it's strongly felt whenever we're treated to them.
It's due to these strong performances and how well they work together that we can forgive the plot holes and the predictable twists. Those are even subtle and subdued; we know they're happening, but we don't mind. Writer/director Jerome Salle doesn't ring them in with an explosion. He presents them so simply and matter-of-fact that they only serve to advance the main story, the relationship between Chiara and Francois. And the film is so fast paced that we actually find ourselves wanting more.
The DVD itself was a bit difficult to track down. It wasn't available on Netflix, or directly from Amazon. But if you have the chance to get your hands on it, especially if you suffered through The Tourist, it's worth checking out.