Also with: Christian Charmettant, Charles Gerard.
Bare-bones boy-meets-girl story “The Thief and the Liar” is a modestly engaging tale centering on the visceral connection between an escaped convict and a woman at odds with her surroundings. Intimate widescreen drama produced by Claude Lelouch should do OK at Gallic wickets and on the Euro tube.
Paul Salomon (Gerard Darmon) has flown lockup and hitched to a wintry resort town on the English Channel to recover a briefcase full of dough on his way to Blighty. He hastily buys new clothes in a shop where movie costumer Suzanne (Mathilda May) is also making purchases.
Late that night, Paul invites himself to her restaurant table and tells her the truth about himself. Suzanne, skeptical, invents an imaginary life for herself based on Helena, the traumatized Russian violinist heroine of a pic she was working on. The more Suzanne fibs, the more truthful Paul becomes. The relationship is cemented when Suzanne discovers he really is an escaped thief on the lam. They share a night of torrid romance, but the local police chief (Philippe Leotard) is on their trail.
Though there is nothing earth-shattering about the encounter, the chemistry between Darmon and May works. Former is well cast as the grizzled charmer, and May is more convincing here as a contemporary woman having an extended bad-hair day than in recent period roles as explorer Isabelle Eberhardt or writer Colette.
Shot in 18 days, pic boasts the immediacy and continuity of one long night. A subplot about the restaurant waitress who is having an affair with the married police chief gives Nathalie Cerda a chance to shine. Widescreen lensing alternates formal compositions with hand-held stuff.