A tight little riff on honor among thieves following a jewel heist, “Springtime in Paris” is smart, sardonic and satisfying. With enough bluffing and brinkmanship for a poker tournament, clockwork screenplay’s cast of shady guys and dolls played just right sustains an enticingly world-weary tone. There’s nothing fancy here — just the considerable pleasure of a modest but nicely calibrated thriller suited for the bigscreen, fests and tube.
Vet Jacques Bral, who wrote, directed, produced and co-edited, has been away for ages — his last pic, “Mauvais garcon,” was in 1993 and, simply put, it’s nice to have him back.
Fiftysomething thief Georges (Eddy Mitchell) has just served five years in prison and would rather not go back. But when suave young Pierrot (Sagamore Stevenin) suggests a lucrative can’t-miss job, they combine forces to steal a gem-bedecked necklace from the safe in a private mansion.
Georges removes the gems from their settings, entrusting the biggest stones to jet-set jeweler Jerome (Pierre Santini), who says he’ll get top dollar from clients in the United Arab Emirates. Georges then offers the smaller rocks to a well-off local fence (Gerard Jugnot), who pays cash.
But matters grow complex when the insurance company leans on the police, the police lean on the fence, the jeweler is reluctant to split the proceeds, bullets are fired, women are seduced and the wrong people make impromptu visits to the cops. Both cast and audience are kept guessing, with all maneuvers played ultraclose to the vest.
Mitchell and Stevenin are great fun as customers so cool they’d make cucumbers jealous. Dark humor and modern romance parse the proceedings from first frame to last. Breezy jazz score is just right.