Films: Guilty

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France, 2011, 101 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Biographical, Drama
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: French English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Vincent Garenq
Producer: Christophe Rossignon, Philip Boeffard
Editor: Dorian Rigal-Ansous
Screenwriter: Vincent Garenq
Cinematographer: Renaud Chassaing
Principal Cast: Philippe Torreton, Wladimir Yordanoff, Noémie Lvovsky, Raphael Ferret, Michèle Goddet

This fact-based story of a man incarcerated nearly four years for crimes he didn’t commit grippingly shows just how far awry the judicial process can fall. Alain Marécaux, who helped write the script, was arrested in the middle of the night in 2001 at his home in northern France. Director Vincent Garenq follows his point of view from start to finish in the drama adapted from Marécaux’s autobiography. Alain (Philippe Torreton) and his wife, Edith (Noémie Lvovsky), are handcuffed and driven separately to police headquarters, where they learn they are among a group accused of numerous horrific acts of pedophilia, their own three children among the alleged victims. The press and the public feast on the lurid scandal, which makes headlines for months.

Guilty follows Marécaux’s descent from frustration to desperation as his life is slowly torn to shreds. A barrister himself, Alain initially has a poignantly heartbreaking confidence that the mistake will be rectified quickly. Director of photography Renaud Chassaing’s deft hand-held camerawork illustrates Marécaux’s predicament with immediacy, the heavy clang of yet another prison door taking him ever deeper inside. Torreton’s grim visage dominates nearly every scene, his subtle changes of expression revealing his transformation by life behind bars. Raphaël Ferret, as young Judge Burgaud, portrays a man caught up in the hubris of his own importance in the trial of a lifetime. His lack of emotion as he refuses to hear Marécaux’s appeals is chilling.

Although the troubled mother at the root of the entire accusation eventually admits she lied, the havoc the case has wrought upon so many lives is irrevocable.


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