The Second Wind (DVD)

Jose Giovanni’s novel "Un reglement de comptes" was originally adapted for the screen by the late, great John Pierre-Melville, as one of his final films, "Le deuxieme souffle" (The Second Wind) in 1966. Although far from his finest hour, the film is still a true classic. Such a classic that it should always remain a part of Melville’s legacy. A legacy which unfortunately, as of 2007, has a stain on it, all thanks to this Alain Corneau remake.

The Second Wind DVD

It really pains me to see a masterful director have a film of his remade. It’s not creative and it’s not smart, and let’s be honest, it’s disrespectful. Especially when the director of the remake has proven in the past that he is capable of making a good film; 1991’s "Tous les matins du monde" (All the World’s Mornings) was a fantastic adaptation of the same year’s Pascal Quignard novel, but The Second Wind simply isn’t. In fact, it could hardly be called an adaptation, as it is almost scene-for-scene the same as Melville’s film.

Crime drama The Second Wind stars Daniel Auteuil, of Michael Hanneke’s brilliant "Hidden" fame, as iconic mobster Gu, who escapes from prison and plans to flee France for Italy with his beloved Manouche (Monica Belluci, Persephone in The Matrix saga). But, things aren’t always that simple, and he wants a little spending money to kick off his new life abroad, so he decides to pull off one last heist, the result of which leaves his infamous name and reputation in tatters, and he must fight to reclaim loyalty and respect from his peers in the criminal underworld, whilst battling his enemies on both sides of the law.

Despite stellar performances from Auteuil, Belucci, and former footballer-turned-actor Eric Cantona, The Second Wind is overly long dribble. It’s commendable cinematography poured over a two-and-a-half hour, overstretched layer of bad storytelling. It’s dull and uninteresting, and could have worked so much better with a ninety-minute running time. There is also this orangey hue, almost sepia tone, definitely added in post-production, that makes a lot of what’s on screen appear dark and dull, but lights exaggeratingly bright and anything red extremely strong. It almost seems that Alain tried to borrow from modern Western film-making, and try and incorporate some kind of element of a graphic novel feel into the film, but it just does not work, and in actuality is quite annoying. The colour is about the only thing stylish and "original" that Corneau brings to the table with this particular production. There is also an abundance of awful and pointless CGI blood and gore. It looks so damn terrible and the effects could have been done so much easier, and even cheaper, practically. What is the film-making world coming to when you don’t even have the desire to shoot a spray of blood?

Whatever possessed Alain Corneau to actually remake a film based on a crime novel is beyond me. How many of the things are there? There was influx after influx of French crime novels, yet he chose to make this bland copycat? I can only presume it was an unfortunate case of money over art. I urge you, please forget this was ever made and check out/stick to Jean-Pierre Melville’s original adaptation. You won’t be sorry.

EXTRAS * The theatrical trailer.

Justin Bateman is a Screenjabber contributor

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