A review by Damian Cannon.
Copyright © Movie Reviews UK 1997
As an illustration of stupidity, and the futility of stupidity, L'Appât
succeeds marvelously in following this line to its ultimate conclusion. Initially we meet
Nathalie (Marie Gillain), a young shop assistant with pretensions to modeling, who flits
between wearing the unsold clothes and flirting with middle-aged businessmen. After one of
these dates Nathalie returns home to Eric (Olivier Sitruk) and Bruno (Bruno Putzulu), both
engrossed in a badly-dubbed Scarface. It seems that they must both be gay judging by the
lack of attention they both pay to Nathalie as she meanders semi-nude around the flat,
although it eventually turns out that Eric is her boyfriend and Bruno just sleeps on the
Unfortunately Nathalie is the only bread-winner since both Eric and Bruno are
stuck in the hole of having neither jobs nor the enthusiasm to look for them. This frugal
situation conflicts somewhat with Eric's dream of emigrating to the States and opening a
chain of pret-a-porter shops, or maybe a restaurant, or perhaps something else entirely!
Whatever his ambition is it somehow becomes the dream for both Nathalie and Bruno as well,
which leaves the acquisition of funds as the only hurdle. This sleepy state becomes
perturbed when a friend of Eric's repays his $350 debt -- not with money but with a
hand-gun. Although decision seems too strong a word, Eric and Bruno decide to embark on a
life of crime with the aim of amassing 10 million francs.
The direction of this new life is fairly uncertain until Eric stumbles across
Nathalie's address book, seemingly the key to riches, with notations for all of her
middle-aged flirtations. All they need is for Nathalie to take the victim back to his
flat, then Eric and Bruno can burst in with guns waving and empty the safe. Simple, no?
Unfortunately not since the victim either has friends coming over, hi-tech video cameras
or just a lot of luck -- until one day. This time everything runs smoothly, until the
small-time lawyer lying bound on the floor tells them that he has no safe. In a downward
spiral of stupidity the result is murder and a few thousand francs, hardly worth it
From here the pressure mounts as their plans continue to fail and dreams fail
to materialise, although we barely care as they hardly deserve to succeed. Finally, of
course, another victim succumbs with predictable results, leaving the three with a pile of
early Christmas presents. Are we really surprised when the Police pick up Nathalie a few
days later? Not really considering that she's wearing the stolen jewellery! The bloodied
jeans from the first killing, still soaking in the bidet, reinforce the stupidity which
has taken them from nowhere, to nowhere, with nothing to show for it.
This results in a curiously flat film with none of the characters having the
ability to move us emotionally. Their actions contain so little meaning that it's hard to
decide why they do anything, although it's interesting to see how they slide down the
inevitable slope. The script contains some good points but it's a shame that more depth
wasn't added with the parents of both Nathalie and Eric, while Bruno is almost a clone of
Eric without independent thought. The soundtrack has some good incidental music, with
tracks from Peter Gabriel and US3, although it doesn't play a fundamental role.
In summary, L'Appât is a watchable study of three almost-lovers inching away
from life due to their own stupidity and apathy. The conclusion is predictable but their
route takes some interesting turns.
Note: Bertrand Tavernier won the Golden Bear from the Berlin International
Film Festival for directing The Bait (1995). Both Olivier Sitruk and Marie
Gillain were nominated for Cesars for Most Promising Young Actor and Actress (1996).
Runtime: 115 minutes
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