was a classy lady like Renée Le Roux doing running a casino in Nice?
Unfortunately, she did not have much time at the helm of the Palais de la Méditerranée
before getting forced out by the Mafia. Pardon, make that: eased out by a rival
casino operator with reputed underworld ties. It would be a bitter defeat for
Madame Le Roux, costing her far more than control over the casino. André Téchiné
adapts her memoir of the so-called “Nice Casino War,” but he de-emphasizes the
Scorsese-esque elements throughout In the
Names of My Daughter (trailer
which opens this Friday in New York.
Palais was once tightly held by the Le Roux family, but when Madame Le Roux
assumed the directorship of the casino, they barely retained a fifty-one
percent stake. Many of the minor shareholders were opposed to her appointment,
requiring her slightly estranged daughter Agnès to duly vote in favor of her
mum. It was a victory orchestrated by her legal advisor Maurice Agnelet, who
made something of an impression on the recently divorced Agnès. He happens to
be married, but that does not mean much to either of them. Frankly, he is not nearly
as attracted to her as she is to him. However, when Madame Le Roux refuses to
appoint him as her general manager, he starts manipulating her daughter (and her
shares) to extract revenge.
daughter will indeed betray the mother, but from that point on, the chain of
events gets mysteriously murky and tragic. Agnelet will ultimately face trial
three times, yet Téchiné prefers to handle such dramatic red meat in the film’s
postscript. Arguably, the intrigue and duplicity of the Casino War could have challenged
the gangsterism of Cédric Jimenez’s The
Connection, but Téchiné prefers to zero-in on the emotionally fraught
mother-daughter relationship. The screenplay co-written by Jean-Charles Le
Roux, who excised himself and his brothers from the picture, focuses on his
anguished mother rather than the defiant Angelet.
can lord over an elegant old-money casino like Catherine Deneuve. If you had
shares in the Palais, you would vote with her too. Despite some unnecessary
passage-of-time makeup, she rock-solidly anchors the film as Madame Le Roux. She
instantly suggests a sense of Le Roux’s comfort in this exclusive world, as
well as the long and thorny history she shares with both her daughter and
former advisor. Guillaume Canet’s Agnelet is not exactly flashy, but he is
convincingly cold-blooded, thin-skinned, and borderline sociopathic. On the
other hand, Adèle Haenel’s turn as Agnès, the needy hipster, often rings
hollow, sounds flat, or some such metaphor, but as you might surmise from the
title, she will not be around for the closing credits.
The seductive and captivating thing about Téchiné
films like Thieves and Unforgivable is the way they incorporate
thriller elements while skirting the boundaries of genre cinema. Yet, it
becomes almost perverse in the case of the Casino War and the three resulting
murder trials. Nonetheless, Téchiné pulls viewers into the story and through
the film with a strong directorial hand that characteristically feels
deceptively light. Recommended in spite and because of his auteurist
idiosyncrasies, In the Name of My
Daughter opens this Friday (5/15) in New York, at the IFC Center and the
Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.
Labels: Andre Techine, Catherine Deneuve, French Cinema