The Trilogy: On The Run
- Running time: 0 minutes
Telling three distinct stories with characters that exist within the same universe, Lucas Belvaux's audacious The Trilogy immediately calls to mind Krzysztof Kieslowski's famed Three Colors triptych in concept, but the similarities end there. The relationships between the characters in Kieslowski's films are more glancing and abstract, and those characters are ultimately linked by his thematic interests in fate and the artist's power in orchestrating it. Though Belvaux's films operate well enough on their own individual terms (especially the first two, On The Run and An Amazing Couple), they interact more closely, each running through a parallel chronology, with major players in one entry fading into the backdrop of the next, and vice versa. The overall effect falls short of profundity, but as a magician's sleight of hand, The Trilogy is magnificently versatile entertainment, cycling through three different genres–thriller, farce, and melodrama, respectively–while maintaining a firm grip on the whole. Getting things off to an appropriately rousing start, On The Run cuts straight to a prison break in progress, a fitting opening salvo for a film that moves as quickly and methodically as its fugitive antihero. With a costumer's ransom in fake mustaches and hairpieces attached to his poker face, Belvaux himself stars as a leftist revolutionary whose daring escape comes so long after his incarceration that the movement has faded in his absence. Expertly skirting police roadblocks and ambushes, Belvaux heads back to his Grenoble haunt, looking to regroup his former comrades and settle scores with his ideological enemies. Holed up in a storage garage with canned goods, a lantern, and a healthy cache of weapons and currency, he seeks out his old accomplice Catherine Frot, but finds that she's given up the cause for a husband and family. Meanwhile, a disgraced cop (Gilbert Melki) tightens the dragnet while smuggling morphine to his drug-addicted wife (Dominique Blanc), whom Belvaux coaxes into sheltering him in a mountain chalet overlooking the city. A taut, diamond-cut piece of storytelling, On The Run sketches in the backstory when necessary, but it mostly observes a seasoned terrorist and outlaw as he plots both survival and revenge. At first, Belvaux encourages a compelling ambivalence about his character, but once his radical past has been revealed, he emerges as a rebel without a cause, stripped of the ideology that sheathes his ruthlessness. Having thoroughly unmasked its hero, On The Run reaches a good jumping-off point for An Amazing Couple, but not before providing one of the most deliciously ironic endings this side of The Wages Of Fear.