Thursday, July 7, 2011

La peau de chagrin (2010)

Adapted from Honoré de Balzac's novel, this movie version of La peau de chagrin is very good. I like the plot very much: a destitute young man finds a way to fulfill all his wishes: with the help of a magic skin. This is much better than Doraemon's magic pocket, for the magic skin will not deny him anything. However, it demands a payment: for each wish, it shrinks and consumes a portion of the owner's physical energy, so his life is getting shorter by each wish.

Raphaël (Thomas Coumans who plays him is very good looking) is poor and unfortunate. His book is rejected by the publishers and he stupidly falls in love with a very rich lady, Fedora. When Fedora rejects him, his life shatters and he wants to commit suicide. When he wants to obtain a gun to kill himself, he meets a blind man who owns an antique store with strange things and the blind man offers him a magic donkey skin which can make all his dreams come true, but his life will be getting shorter by each wish. "If you want to end your life, here is a more delicious way." Raphaël, who thinks that he is about to die anyway, takes the skin.

Soon Raphaël is rich, his book is published and sold out, and he successfully ruins Fedora's reputation. However, he worries when he sees the size of the magic skin now. He tries not to make wish and tells his butler that the word must be banished from his house. Then he meets Pauline, daughter of his ex-landlord, who faithfully kept him company during his miserable days. She even gave him a Napoleon coin when he was about to leave, but he lost it on a gambling table. He realizes now that it's Pauline he loves and wants and he would give back all his wealth if he could live longer and grow old with Pauline. It's no use. However, the blind man tells him that dying is worth if Raphaël knows the meaning of his life.

One thing I like about this story, is that Raphaël is described as arrogant. [Usually this kind of story has a perfect hero.] His vanity makes us think that he deserves his demise, but his beauty and unfortunate life make us pity him.

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