Fresh Bait captures the twisted symbiosis whereby three reasonably nice and normal French kids become a clumsy death squad. Bertrand Tavernier’s conscientious look at moral bankruptcy, as demonstrated by murders as chillingly excessive as they are pointless, does a sober, fairly suspenseful job of deglamourizing violence. Fresh Bait was to have been the realistic crime follow-up to L.627, but helmer was obliged to take up the reins on D’Artagnan’s Daughter first. Co-scripters Tavernier and ex-wife Colo Tavernier O’Hagan [adapting Morgan Sportes’ book] have updated a true story that stunned the nation in 1984.
Barely 18, fresh-faced and shapely Nathalie (Marie Gillain) works in a Paris clothing boutique and lives in a small apartment with her handsome, marginally older boyfriend, Eric (Olivier Sitruk), and Eric’s none-too-bright, emotionally co-dependent buddy, Bruno (Bruno Putzulu). While Nat works, the guys watch American gangster and adventure pix on TV.
Nathalie methodically collects the business cards of professional men while Eric formulates a grandiose plan. Nathalie – the bait – is to get herself invited to the victim’s home, presumably for sex, only to have Eric and Bruno burst in and empty the overflowing safe that they imagine all lawyers and merchants must have. Kids believe that a handful of such heists will yield the seed money they need to open a pie-in-the-sky chain of ready-to-wear boutiques in the US.
Tightly knit ensemble cast is good, particularly Putzulu as the dim-bulb sponger who takes things literally. Extensive use of nocturnal, roving hand-held camera renders the proceedings up-close, fluid and intimate.