On the day Jean Gabin dies, a kidnaper who also takes a fortune in jewels heisted from Cartiers murders Simon Verini’s wife. (Simon was fencing the jewels for a youthful gang who robbed Cartiers; he suspects them of the murder.) He’s framed for the theft and spends ten years in prison, writing to his daughter, Marie-Sophie, who’s 11 when he’s sent away.
Released, he reconnects to Marie-Sophie and to the young thieves, seeks revenge, and is quickly arrested again. She doesn’t know what to make of her father, retreats to her Swiss fiancé, and is flummoxed when one of the young thieves falls for her. Is resolution possible when crime cuts across families and romance?
Review for Attention Bandits
A diamond robbery. A double-cross. A dead wife. A jail term. Ten years to consider revenge. And then… an equestrian competition? Attention Bandits (or Bandits, as says the video cover of the US release) is one odd little movie. First starting off like a European gangster movie and then suddenly admitting that “Jean Gabin is dead, there can be no more gangster movies,” Bandits meanders like a prairie stream.
It seem to almost go in circles without actually going anywhere, leaving the audience to check watches, insert matchsticks under the eyes and finally rejoince when the thing begins to grow balls again. Claude Lelouch, the highl sentimental French director of such 60’s/70’s classics as A Man And A Woman, Happy New Year and L’Aventure, C’est L’Aventure, was far from at the top of his game when this was made (he sold out with A Man And A Woman: 20 Years Later directly after this was produced) and it really shows in the first fifteen (long) minutes.
So L’Expert (Jean Yanne) is an aging man amongst gangsters. When a man who calls himself Mozart comes to L’Expert and asks if he can assist Mozart’s gang by receiving and selling their expected bounty from a planned diamond robbery, L’Expert agrees. Arrangements are made for a large payment in return for the diamonds, only when the diamonds are paid for, L’Expert’s wife is kidnapped and ransomed for their return. Suspecting he’s been set up by Mozart’s gang, he agrees to give back the diamonds, but his wife is shot once he does so.
So now he’s pissy. No money. No diamonds. No wife. And it’s not long before he’s set up and arrested for the robbery. Meanwhile, L’Expert sends his little girl off to boarding school in Switzerland where she learns how to be a lady. When he’s released, so too is she, and the two get to know each other as L’Expert plans his revenge.
But trust me, that paragraph makes this thing sound a lot better than it is. Lelouch strolls through the story at a snail’s pace, and the inevitable love twist (although it doesn’t happen until the end, the picture on the video box gives it away completely) is played out with such a lack of interest that by the finish you could really care less who sleeps with who or who hates whoever. The only reason to watch til the finish is to see who it was that pulled the original doublecross, and even that’s an anti-climax.
Weighing the entire production down is the horse-faced stick figure that plays L’Expert’s adult daughter, Marie-Sophie L. (the L stands for Lelouch – yes, she’s director Claude’s wife). Actresses like Julie Delpy, Juliet Binoche and Sophie Marceau exude French grace, beauty and sexuality. ‘L’ exudes hunger. She looks pained through most of the film and I couldn’t help but feel that maybe Mozart could have done better. So could I, with my future video selections.
Attention Bandits (1987)
Directed by: Claude Lelouch
Starring: Jean Yanne, Marie-Sophie L., Patrick Bruel, Charles Gérard, Corinne Marchand, Hélène Surgère, Edwige Navarro, Christine Barbelivien
Screenplay by: Claude Lelouch
Production Design by: Jacques Bufnoir
Cinematography by: Jean-Yves Le Mener
Film Editing by: Hugues Darmois
Costume Design by: Charlotte David, Harriet de Prag
Music by: Francis Lai
Distributed by: Grange / Winters
Release Date: June 3, 1987