Thursday, November 1, 2012

Un papillon sur l'épaule (1978)

Lino Ventura started out as a wrestler before becoming a movie star and he usually played as a gangster, so he was not exactly what we call a methodical actor; but he was surprisingly very good in this psychological thriller.

Lino Ventura played Roland Fériaud, a Frenchman who just arrived in Hotel Colon in Barcelona. He checks in, goes into the elevator, and when he is entering his hotel room, he hears a moan from the room next-door. He knocks, enters, sees a body on the bed, and somebody hits his head. When he wakes up, he is in a deserted hospital, with only a doctor, a nurse, and a lunatic patient whose face resembles the body he saw back in the hotel. This lunatic man talks to an imaginary butterfly on his shoulder and adores a scarecrow on a bed in his room.

The doctor lets Roland go after convincing him that he has too much imagination. He goes back to Hotel Colon and meets a lady who is looking for her husband whose description matches the lunatic man. Roland tells the lady to make a report to the police. Then Roland's wife comes to join him, but then kidnapped and the kidnappers demands to trade her for a suitcase which Roland has no idea about.

This is a story of a mistaken identity, a man in the wrong place and in the wrong time. Being in a foreign country, Roland has no one to help him. His holiday turns into a nightmare and nothing will ever be the same.

The movie is rather slow, like Jacques Deray's previous movie La Piscine(1968); but Un papillon sur l'épaule has more suspense. The sight of the second dead body was very horrifying for me.

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