Opener Second Breath speaks of the gangster underworld and lost honour
by Vittoria Scarpa
It is with a vertiginous leap into the void that the competition of the second international RomeFilmFest opened today: a leap taken by Daniel Auteuil (as Gu, a dangerous gangster with sad eyes) in order to escape from prison in the initial scene of Second Breath [+see also:
film profile] by Alain Corneau.
The film – a remake of the famous 1966 film noir by Jean Pierre Melville, who took his inspiration from the homonymous novel by José Giovanni about the French gangland of the 1960s – is a sort of moral tragedy with a macabre edge, a story of honour and betrayal, about the corrupt codes of the gangster underworld. But this is also a story of passion, of Gu’s passion (the role originally played by Lino Ventura) for Manouche, the protective gangster’s moll who has been "cleaned up" and is played by Monica Bellucci, who dyed her hair blond for the role and is as lithe as ever.
"The story belongs to no particular era,” said Corneau during the press conference, because it deals with universal themes – honour, oaths, moral codes, which no longer exist in today’s gangland".
Developing the film, which takes place for the most part at night, with images of intense colour and red, yellow and green lights, was a very lengthy process: "For over twenty years I’d been dreaming of bringing this novel to the screen," the director revealed, "and I wrote the screenplay following the book step by step, giving back to Manouche (who in Melville’s film was supposed to be played by Simone Signoret, before the character was cut from the film) her central role."
"For the character Manouche I was inspired by the classic image of the noir heroine," said Bellucci, whose hair is dark again and who in the film parades around with a narrow waist, pointed bras and high heels, "Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential, Sharon Stone in Casino, but above all legendary blondes such as Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Simone Signoret. If I’m an actress today it is especially because of the inspiration provided by great brunette actresses such as Anna Magnani, Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale."
As for Auteuil, who was absent due to commitments in Paris, Bellucci shared one of his comments: “When he saw the film again, Daniel was very proud of our kiss. He said that it was the best screen kiss he has ever given”.
(Translated from Italian)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.