Critics' Pick

The Painting (2005) (PG-13)

Drama 95 January 28, 2005
By Michael Atkinson
An amiable oddity crafted by a murderers' row of classic French cinema heavy-hitters—including stars Jean Gabin and Bourvil, and screenwriters Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost-- this 1956 lark follows two strangers (Bourvil's a crooked loser, Gabin a slumming painter) as they struggle to move four suitcases of freshly butchered black-market pork across Nazi-occupied Paris. Shot entirely on stylized sets, and therefore missing any sense of real Parisian grit, the film meanders with the gabby, bickering stars around infrequent German patrols and scads of Gallic lowlife; nothing receives as much satiric flogging as the crafty ways by which the French eked out survival and screwed each other over during the war. It's a beloved film at home while being virtually unknown elsewhere, and you might have to be French to get all of its jibes and contextual riffs, but the stars lock into a splenetic pas de deux (Gabin was rarely this energetic, especially at this age), and the teeming cast of combative schemers around them are a blast.
Joshua D Rose, Peter Manoogian Charles Shaughnessy, Bumper Robinson, Clifton Davis, Stacey Dash, Ben Vereen, Heath Freeman, Debbie Allen, Josh Ackerman, Billy Moses, Shari Dyon Perry Morris Taylor Marina Muhlfriedel, David Rose, Michael Hammer Castle Hill Productions


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