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  Canicule Homicide In The Countryside
Year: 1984
Director: Yves Boisset
Stars: Lee Marvin, Miou-Miou, Jean Carmet, Victor Lanoux, David Bennent, Bernadette Lafont, Grace De Capitani, Tina Louise, Muni, Jean-Claude Dreyfuss, Juliette Mills
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: An American gangster in France, Jimmy Cobb (Lee Marvin) kisses his girlfriend goodbye, promising to meet her once more after he has taken care of some business. That business is a bank truck heist, but little does he know that the police are well aware of his plans and have arranged a reception committee of armed officers at the bank. Cobb goes ahead with the robbery regardless, but when he blasts open the back of the van with a rocket launcher, all hell breaks loose and criminals, police and innocent bystanders alike are caught in a hail of bullets. Cobb manages to grab a bag full of thousands of francs worth of cash, steals a car and roars off out of the city into the countryside, but what he finds there will be even more of a challenge...

One of Lee Marvin's last films, Canicule, or Dog Day as it is known in English, was based on the novel by Jean Herman, who was also one of five people adapting it, along with the director Yves Boisset. Why it took so many to write such a straightforward script I don't know, but it's obvious Marvin was hired on the strength of past glories and his screen reputation as a man of violence, as his gangster role could not be said to be much of a stretch for his talents. In fact, he spends most of the film looking weary and/or bewildered - not being able to speak the language was perhaps a hindrance.

On the other hand, maybe not, as most of the time Cobb is either skulking about or hiding and not exactly loquacious. He buries the loot in a field and searches for a hideout to lay low in while the police scour the area for him and a helicopter circles in the skies, but unfortunately a small boy (David Bennent) finds the money and delightedly swaps it for rocks so he can make off with it. Cobb, meanwhile, reaches the farmhouse of the boy's family and conceals himself in their barn. That family are presumably supposed to be Cobb's match, complete with a nymphomaniac and an abusive husband, colourful characters all.

However, the lack of any real twists in the plot relegates any interest to the accumulation of incidents: the husband dressing as a scarecrow to spy on two female campers, the put-upon wife (Miou-Miou) who finds Cobb and demands he kill her spouse or she will alert the ever-present police, all towards some sort of intrigue that just isn't there. A spot of black comedy might have helped, Bennent throwing cash around in a whorehouse notwithstanding, yet without one single attractive character, you might as well be watching fish in a tank, nasty fish, but proof that bad taste doesn't necessarily mean very interesting. As a thriller, Canicule goes through the motions, and all the betrayals prompt not much more than a shrug. Fans wishing to see two cult stars in Marvin and Miou-Miou sharing the screen may have their curiosity piqued, only to feel boredom creeping in after a while. Music by Francis Lai.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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