The Apartment – L’Appartement (1996)

The Apartment - L'Appartement (1996)

Max is on his way to Tokyo. He lives in Paris and likes to flirt but has decided to get married. By chance, he seems to have seen Lisa, his greatest love, in a cafe. Max forgets everything, his trip to Tokyo and his fiance. Obsessed with meeting Lisa he finds out where she lives and hides in the apartment. However, a different girl, called Alice, finds Max in the flat. Alice looks quite similar to Lisa, and they have sex. To complicate matters further, Alice is also the girlfriend of Max’s buddy Lucien and Lisa is followed by an older man.

The Apartment (French: L’Appartement) is a 1996 French film directed by Gilles Mimouni and starring Romane Bohringer, Vincent Cassel, Jean-Philippe Écoffey, Monica Bellucci, Sandrine Kiberlain, Olivier Granier, Tsuyu Shimizu, Paul Pavel and Bruno Leonelli.

About the Story

Max (Vincent Cassel) is a former bohemian and an amateur writer who gets a job in New York and leaves his girlfriend Lisa, with whom he was madly in love, in mysterious circumstances. After two years, he returns home to Paris and decides to settle down and gets engaged to Muriel (Sandrine Kiberlain).

The Apartment - L'Appartement (1996)

By chance, he catches a glimpse of his lost love, Lisa (Monica Bellucci), in a café, but fails to make contact with her before she storms out. Determined to meet her, Max secretly cancels his business trip abroad to pursue his lost love. Through a series of ruses and perseverance, he enters Lisa’s apartment. Hearing that somebody else has arrived, he hides in her wardrobe.

First he thinks it is Lisa as the girl who came to the apartment resembles Lisa from behind. After several misunderstandings they finally get acquainted. The girl introduces herself as Lisa. The same night they make love and their relationship starts to develop. The girl’s real name is Alice (Romane Bohringer). During the film, flashbacks are intertwined with the narrative to provide a background for Max, Lisa, and especially for Alice, shedding light on the situation.

The flashbacks show that Alice and Lisa were best friends, living in apartments on the same floor of two facing buildings, and that Alice became obsessed with Max, Lisa’s then-boyfriend, from a distance. She restyled herself to look like Lisa while secretly engineering a breakup between them.

The Apartment - L'Appartement (1996)

Lisa is a stage actress and leaves abruptly for a two-month tour, giving Alice a letter to deliver to Max asking him to wait for her; Alice never sends the letter. Max, believing Lisa left because she didn’t love him, accepts a job in New York and leaves. Upon her return, Lisa is heartbroken that Max has left her and leaves on a cruise (a gift from Alice) to ease her mind, where she meets a rich, married older man named Daniel.

Lisa is being pursued by Daniel, who might have murdered his wife to get closer to her. For this reason, she avoids her flat and lets Alice use it. To complicate matters further, Alice is dating Max’s best friend, Lucien, who is also Max’s confidante. Eventually, the truth begins to unravel in front of everyone’s eyes, leading to dramatic and life-changing consequences for all involved.

The Apartment - L'Appartement (1996) - Romane Bohringer

Film Review for The Apartment

“L’Appartement” is as startling a film as it is seductive. It flirts and teases the viewer with changes in time and settings that form a labyrinth of deception. To describe director Gilles Mimouni’s script and style as confident would serve well were he a film maker of experience. That this should be his debut movie begs another description entirely. Outrageous arrogance might seem closer to the mark, for he is unflinching in perplexing the viewer with pieces of a puzzle that weave their way into the intertwined lives of five people.

At the heart of it lies Max (Vincent Cassel), whose affections are as flighty as the micro skirts that adorn the women he lusts after. He’s decided to grow-up and get married. But a chance glimpse of his ultimate love, Lisa, sends him into a spin. He’s desperate to track her down and it’s this extraordinary whirlwind of lust and surprise that we are thrown into.

It really all boils down to a ridiculous set of circumstances and reckless passion. But Mimouni’s trick is to entrance and frustrate the viewer as much as Max. Among the various glimpses into the characters of the movie, some are important and some are not. All these snatches are filmed with a bravura style that seamlessly blends and merges classic camera techniques with consummate skill.

This really is a film that you should immerse yourself in. Mimouni has the answers but rather than serve them in the typical storytelling format, he chooses to show off. And let him. For this is a gorgeously wicked film that tests visceral foreplay to a near unbearable but satisfying climax.

The Apartment - L'Appartement Movie Poster (1996)

The Apartment – L’Appartement (1996)

Directed by: Gilles Mimouni
Starring: Romane Bohringer, Vincent Cassel, Jean-Philippe Écoffey, Monica Bellucci, Sandrine Kiberlain, Olivier Granier, Tsuyu Shimizu, Paul Pavel, Bruno Leonelli
Screenplay by: Gilles Mimouni
Production Design by: Philippe Chiffre
Cinematography by: Thierry Arbogast
Film Editing by: Caroline Biggerstaff, Françoise Bonnot
Costume Design by: Laurence Heller
Set Decoration by: Corinne Lafaille
Music by: Peter Chase
Distributed by: Cinemien
Release Date: October 2, 1996