29 April 2021

Jean-François Richet's L'Ennemi public nº 1 | Mesrine 2: Public Enemy No 1 (2008)

The second of the two-part film about Mesrine's career as a gangster goes from 1972 up to his death in November 1979, is entirely set in France and we see him in a large number of disguises: becoming increasingly known throughout France, he had to ensure that no one would recognise him. There is also an increasing desire for self-advertisement: not only does he publish the book L'Instinct de mort (1977) about his crimes and all the people he's killed (39, he claims) but he has a fascination for communicating with the media.

He is imprisoned in 1973, although he escapes by holding the judge hostage. He is discovered and sent to La Santé for twenty years. However, he manages to escape over the wall with another prisoner, François Besse (Mathieu Amalric), wearing the uniforms they've taken from prison wardens.

Mesrine is living a wealthy life with his girlfriend Sylvia (Ludivine Sagnier) until the Brigade de recherche et d'intervention (BRI) shoot him dead at the wheel of his car. Eighteen bullets hit him, his partner is seriously hurt, losing one eye, and their poodle is also killed. In 2011 she published Ma vie avec Mesrine. For many people, perhaps inevitably because of the glamour attached to him, Mesrine is a kind of hero, a representation of a lawless form of freedom.

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