The Counsel

A young lawyer finds himself in too deep with the mobster-client he represents.

With:
With: Benoit Magimel, Gilbert Melki, Aissa Maiga, Eric Caravaca, Samir Guesmi, Barbet Schroeder.

A young lawyer finds himself in too deep with the mobster-client he represents in crime pic “The Counsel,” Gallic writer-helmer Cedric Anger’s distinctly underwhelming follow-up to his debut, “The Killer.” Apparent budget restraints, weak direction and a perfunctory script conspire to create an unimaginative retread of a storyline that’s been done much better elsewhere. “The Counsel” won’t even argue its case very well before French auds, and should slip quickly into ancillary obscurity.

As far back as he can remember, Leo (Benoit Magimel) always wanted to be a criminal lawyer. Soon after qualifying, he’s hired by Paul Vanoni (Gilbert Melki) to keep Vanoni’s shady waste disposal firm looking legit enough to avoid auditing and legal trouble. Seduced by the garbage gangster’s hedonistic lifestyle, Leo is shamed by a customs agent (Eric Caravaca) into turning snitch. Perfs are OK, but characters are underwritten, especially Leo’s g.f., Eve (Aissa Maiga). Anger uses retro stylings — split screens, optical wipes — in an attempt to jazz things up, but such devices, coupled with the tacky score by Gregoire Hetzel, only underscore the pic’s resemblance to Quinn Martin TV productions from the 1970s, and not in a good way.

The Counsel

France

Production: A Sunrise Films, SND production, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cinecinema, in association with A Plus Image, Banque Populaire Images 10, Cinemage 4, Soficinema 5 Development, CNC, with the support of the Region of Languedoc-Roussillon. (International sales: SND, Paris.) Produced by Thomas Klotz. Directed, written by Cedric Anger.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Guillaume Schiffman; editor, Simon Jacquet; music, Gregoire Hetzel; set designer, Antoine Platteau; costume designer, Marielle Robaut. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Piazza Grande), Aug. 9, 2010. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: With: Benoit Magimel, Gilbert Melki, Aissa Maiga, Eric Caravaca, Samir Guesmi, Barbet Schroeder.

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