The ever-versatile Patrice Leconte (Monsieur Hire, Ridicule) has again hit the mark with a wistful, moving fable about regret and ageing.
A ravaged-looking Johnny Hallyday plays the taciturn stranger Milan, who arrives in a small French town and accepts the offer of a room from garrulous retired schoolteacher Manesquier (Jean Rochefort). In three days' time, Milan plans to rob the local bank, while the lonely Manesquier will undergo a traumatic heart bypass operation...
Giving both the main characters a signature musical theme (Schubert for Manesquier, Ry Cooder for Milan) and their own colour schemes (warm browns and cold metallic hues respectively), Leconte has not only lent his movie a cool style, but also suffused it with an appealing, timeless sensibility. The characters are also effective, their yearning for each other's existence adding a welcome layer of gentle comedy.
A lesser director would have taken this idea and turned it into saccharine gloop. Not so Leconte, who keeps things lively and touching.