A DECENT MAN /Je ne suis pas un salaud
West Coast Premiere • Drama, Film Noir • France, 2015
DCP • 1.85 • Dolby 5.1 • Color • 111 min
Directed by: Emmanuel Finkiel
Written by: Emmanuel Finkiel, Julie Peyr
Cinematography: Alexis Kavyrchine
Film Editing: Sylvie Lager
Original Score: Chloé
Produced by: Christine Gozlan, David Poirot (Thelma Films)
Cast: Nicolas Duvauchelle (Eddie), Melanie Thierry (Karine), Driss Ramdi (Ahmed), Maryne Cayon (Estelle)
International Sales: Bac Films • bacfilms.fr
The modern world is changing too fast for people like Eddie, an unemployed, underachieving 30-something separated from his wife and son. Morose and aimless, Eddie sees few opportunities for improvement from his barstool perch in the soul-sucking concrete gloom of the housing projects. Yet when Eddie is stabbed and beaten while attempting to stop some hoodlums from stealing a car radio, his life changes unexpectedly, and for the better. He’s proclaimed a hero. His wife takes him back in and even finds an entry-level job. In a police line-up, Eddie fingers Ahmed, an Arab youth whom he recognizes, not from the attack, but from a sales training video. He can’t say exactly why he lied, but as the law comes down hard on a man whose only crime is being an Arab with a good job, Eddie is trapped in his own downward spiral of volatility and rage.
Due to the film’s themes and violence, some may see it as a reaction to the November Paris attack but, in fact writer/director Emmanuel Finkielhas been working on the project for a decade. Finkiel began as an assistant director for Krzysztof Kieslowski and Jean-Luc Godard before winning a César for his short film, Madame Jacques on the Croisette(1999). His Holocaust-themed debut feature Voyages (1999) won the Best First Work César and was praised for its “subtlety and restraint”. A Decent Man may be more hard-hitting than his earlier work, but it shows the same measured precision and studied naturalism. The film was inspired in part by a real incident in which a friend of Finkiel, named Ahmed was falsely accused after the police rounded up everyone in the area with that name. Finkiel collaborated on the screenplay with Julie Peyr, noted for her work with director Arnaud Desplechin.
“This is a powerful … and superbly acted film, rich in messages about class, ethnicity, and the trap of wage poverty.”
– Chris Knipp, Filmleaf
“Duvauchelle’s intensity is perfectly calibrated, weaving together nervous tension with a tripwire pleasantness.
– Jay Weissman, Variety