A good deal of the romantic crime-drama Accomplices updates Romeo and Juliet for the wired generation. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the kids in this version of embattled love don’t kindle their passion on anyone’s balcony – they peddle their bodies to middle-aged men found in Internet chat rooms.
Director Frederic Mermoud’s film weaves parallel plots, one involving the star-crossed lovers and the other about two aging detectives assigned to investigate when the boy is killed and the girl disappears. Both story threads are compelling. We want to know what happened to Vincent and Rebecca, the kids who took too many risks, but we’re also intrigued by the relationship between cops Herve and Karine, two haunted 40-somethings afraid to risk anything at all.
The film begins with the gruesome discovery of Vincent’s body, bloated and pale, floating in the waters of the Rhone. From there, a series of flashbacks reveal Vincent’s and Rebecca’s first meeting at a cybercafé and subsequent courtship. The second story works in reverse time as Herve and Karine unravel what led to Vincent’s murder.
Most of the screen time in Accomplices belongs to the young lovers, played marvelously by Cyril Descours and Nina Meurisse. Vincent is a 20-year-old hustler, too old for adolescent hijinks but not so jaded that he isn’t entranced by high-school student Rebecca. We do not learn how Vincent got involved in male prostitution. Rebecca’s initiation into the dark side, on the other hand, is spelled out in great detail. The seediness escalates; there is much bare flesh and ugly human nature on display. Yet through it all, Vincent and Rebecca maintain a credible air of wounded innocence — a compliment to the young stars.
In the end, the stories of Vincent and Rebecca, and Herve and Karine, converge. It’s bittersweet and satisfying, a final act of which I think Shakespeare would approve. Grade: B+
Director: Frederic Mermoud Cast: Gilbert Melki, Emmanuelle Devos, Cyril Descours, Nina Meurisse, Joana Preiss, Jeremy Azencott, Jeremy Kapone, Marc Rioufol, Yeelem Jappain, Clara Ponsot Release: 2009
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