Director Arnaud Desplechin’s (Kings and Queen) unconventional spy film is centered on the dissolution of Europe after the fall of Communism. After the death of his diplomat father in Germany, Mathias decides to move to Paris to study forensic medicine. On the train to the city, he is arrested and threatened by a mysterious agent, and the next day Mathias discovers a severed head has been stashed in his luggage. Using his medical knowledge to trace the history of the strange appendage, Mathias begins to get deeper and deeper in obscure international intrigue and is soon out of his depth.
Arnaud Desplechin is the son of Robert and Mado Desplechin, and grew up in the Nord department. He has a brother named Fabrice who has acted in several of his films, and two sisters: novelist Marie Desplechin and screenwriter Raphaëlle Desplechin.
Arnaud Desplechin studied film directing at the University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle, graduating in 1984. He made three short films inpsired by the work of the Belgian novelist Jean Ray, and became a great admirer of the films of Alain Resnais. During the late 1980s, Desplechin worked as a director of photography on several films.
In 1990, Desplechin directed La Vie des morts, starring several actors who would go on to appear in multiple Desplechin films, such as Marianne Dénicourt, Emmanuelle Devos, Emmanuel Salinger and Thibault de Montalembert. The 54-minute-long film won the Jean Vigo Prize for Short Films, and was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.
Desplechin’s first feature-length movie, La Sentinelle, premiered… read more
Desplechin's first feature length picture is a strange blend of spy thriller, tale of obsession and medical thriller with a quite macabre undertone. Though a trifle overlong with its various title cards it is a quite tasty treat overall for those with a darker side. The film is quite out of character with his later works. Performances are understated and invested in the spy genre convention.