10
Jun 09

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Anything For Her (- which seems a touch stronger than the French title Pour Elle) is an okay little prison break thriller. It does however share a with another French film of the last year a lack of ambition when it comes to its central theme. In I’ve Loved You So Long Kristen Scott Thomas gets out of prison for murdering her own child. The film whips along at an uncomfortable tick until, near the end, the film decides to explain the crime to the viewer. It makes the lead character more sympathetic, at the expense of the more interesting ambiguity about the rehabilitation of a long term prisoner.

Anything For Her also has its female lead incarcerated for murder, and it happens in a terrific scene at the start of the film, where the police storm her ordinary family life and everything changes. Three years later she is still in prison, her last appeal used up. Her husband decides to attempt a prison break for her. And then, the film explains what happened in the crime, and if she did it. Again it makes the viewer more comfortable with the storyline, at the expense of ambiguity. Her husband was not a witness so himself cannot be 100% that the conviction is false. And yet he is so convinced that he breaks a lot of laws, and is extremely violent to free her. To then bring his potentially murderous wife back into a family situation, there is genuine lingering suspense and tension in that possibility. To instead paint her in a saintly light is to cast massive doubts on the original conviction.

So instead the film settles for being a competent crime thriller, and barely makes it that far. Plotted poorly, the suspense rest on whether they get away with it or not. The actual prison break is relatively easy, and the film has to throw additional unlikely complications to make it seem harder. And it is well made, throwing a slightly different set of moral conundrums into the mix (her husband ends up committing crimes as bad as the ones she was accused of). And yet it wraps up with as much of a happy ever after that a film like this can muster, which seemed like a missed opportunity.

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