In All Innocence

France 1998

Reviewed by Philip Kemp


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Paris, the present. Two young women, Cécile and her Moroccan friend Semira, gatecrash a reception at an art gallery. There, Cécile steals wallets. Ejected, Cécile and Semira hold up a jeweller with a toy gun. He sounds the alarm; Semira is caught but Cécile gets away. Fearing prosecution, Cécile finds in one of the wallets the card of Michel, a lawyer whose wife Viviane runs the art gallery. Attracted to her, Michel agrees to take her case. Vincent, Cécile's on-and-off boyfriend, offers to give her a false alibi, to which Michel reluctantly agrees. Cécile is acquitted but Semira is deported. Michel and Cécile move into a hotel, although she secretly continues to see Vincent. Jealous, Vincent starts stalking Michel and Cécile. When they move to an apartment he breaks in and trashes it.

Martorel, the state prosecutor, leans on Vincent to admit his perjury. Viviane visits Martorel and persuades him to lay off. Cécile tells Michel she's pregnant. She goes to see Vincent one last time. Michel breaks in on them and Vincent stabs him. Leaving him for dead they flee, but Cécile evades Vincent and heads for Spain, hoping to rejoin Semira in Morocco. Months later Michel, who survived the stabbing, tries to see Viviane at an exhibition of her sculptures, but he is refused entry.


Georges Simenon's characters are often victims less of fate than of their own self-destructive urges. Of the four main players in In All Innocence (adapted from Simenon's 1956 novel En cas de malheur), three seemingly have it made, but can't resist the very course of action that will bring catastrophe down upon them. It may be fate which initially snags them, but after that they perversely do everything to aid its machinations, pulling at the one loose thread until the whole garment of their lives unravels.

The novel has already been filmed once before, in 1958, directed by Claude Autant-Lara (and released in Britain under the salacious title Love Is My Profession). That version starred the veteran team of Jean Gabin and Edwige Feuillère as the older lawyer and his wife. Their formidable combined presence steamrollered straight over the 24-year-old Brigitte Bardot and her young Italian co-star Franco Interlenghi as the two young ruffians. Pierre Jolivet's new version is far better cast, with the actors closer to each other in age and a lot more attuned in their acting styles. As Cécile, Virginie Ledoyen (recently seen in The Beach) is appealingly amoral, a seductive mixture of cynicism and naïveté. Arriving at lawyer Michel's office to ask him to defend her, she stands defiantly still in the middle of the room, at once pleading and scornful, while he prowls restlessly around her, bemused by his own sudden susceptibility.

What hooks him isn't just her sexual attractiveness, but that he sees in her a link back to his own roots in the underclass which he feels he's betrayed. "Through her, I realise I'm not where I belong," he tells his wife, trying to rationalise one betrayal with another. Gérard Lanvin convinces as a man who was once a street-smart kid on a sink estate, making redundant a scene when he takes Cécile on a tour of his old quartier. But having once got Cécile, he can't think of anything to do with her but install her in a gilded cage like the one he's just quitted. Inevitably, since she now isn't "where she belongs" either, she flits off to see her lowlife ex-lover.

Jolivet and his screenwriter Roselyne Bosch, skilfully updating Simenon's original, keep the storyline lean and taut and make unhackneyed use of their Parisian settings, from the smart boulevards of the Opéra to the squalid suburban tenements of Pantin. Though there's a hint of a social subtext to the film (Michel to Cécile: "My clients don't rob banks. Or not at gunpoint"), it's not rammed home. Michel may choose to see Cécile as a victim of the system, but that's hardly how she sees herself. Ultimately it's Michel who's the loser, who in the final scene can't even do what Cécile and her friend Semira did effortlessly at the start: gatecrash a posh reception. He's lost his acquired social skills without regaining those he used to have, and to add to his humiliation the reception is in honour of his wife. Two of the film's most emotionally complex scenes are superbly carried by Carole Bouquet as the wife in question. In one, she persuades the state prosecutor not to pursue judgement against her husband: she might want Michel dead, but she doesn't want to see him broken. And in a brief impulse of revenge she starts to seduce Michel's assistant, only to stop short, her expression conveying an eloquent mix of shame, compassion and a half-amused sense that the move is unworthy of her. By the end of the film, having come into her own at last, she strides away while Michel hobbles after her, pleading. Will she take him back? Shrewdly, the film leaves the question open.


Pierre Jolivet
Alain Goldman
Roselyne Bosch
Based on the novel En cas de malheur by
Georges Simenon
Director of Photography
Pascal Ridao
Yves Deschamps
Art Director
Thierry Flamand
Serge Perathoner
Jannick Top
©Légende Entreprises/
France 3 Cinéma/
Légende Productions
Production Companies
Alain Goldman presents
a Légendes Entreprises-France 2 Cinéma production
With the participation of Canal+ and soficas Sofigram 2 and Gimages
Production Manager
François Hamel
Unit Production Manager
Pascal Ralité
Unit Managers
Sylvain Bouladoux
Antoine Vierny
Florence Sempé
Location Manager
Jean-Philippe Reverdot
Assistant Directors
Douglas Law
Mathieu Thouvenot
Bruno Chauris
Nicolas Pousse
Séverine Cherbonnel
Etienne Levallois
Script Supervisor
Sylvie Koechlin
Frédérique Moidon
Steadicam Operator
Patrick de Ranter
Special Effects
Benoît Squizzato
Guy Monbillard
Set Decorator
Bernadette Saint-Loubert
Viviane's Sculptures
Anne Samuelson
Valérie Pozzo di Borgo
Make-up Supervision
Annick Legout
Chief Hairstylist
Fabienne Bressan
Title Graphics
Thierry Flamand
Mikros Image
Thierry Flamand
Frédéric Moreau
Philippe Pontonné
Emmanuel Gondeau
François Vogel
extracts from "The Magic Flute" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by Rias Symphonie Orchester of Berlin conducted by Ferenc Fricsay
Pierre Excoffier
William Flageollet
Sound Editor
Stratos Gabrielidis
Sound Effects
Mario Melchiorri
Stunt Co-ordinator
Jean-Louis Airola
Ciné Cascade International
Gérard Lanvin
Virginie Ledoyen
Cécile Maudet
Carole Bouquet
Guillaume Canet
Aurélie Vérillon
Semira Allahoui
Jean-Pierre Lorit
Denis Podalydès
William Martorel
Anne Le Ny
Nadia Barentin
Mar Sodupe
Pascal Leguennec
Anny Romand
Judge Menadier
Françoise Sage
Judge Menadier's assistant
Michel Ouimet
presiding judge
Thang Long
Simona Benzakein
press attaché
Marie-Christine Orry
Trocadéro manager
Sabri Lahmer
Candice Sanchez
Yvan Valensi
Plaza manager
Rachid Hafassa
Jean-Pol Brissart
Fréderique Moidon
Eric Challier
Philippe Cura
security guards
Pierre Martot
Olivier Foubert
Alexa George
trainee lawyer
Sébastien Bernard
florist's assistant
Benoît Chabert
Parc de Princes client
François Verdoux
François Berléand
Pathé Distribution
9,111 feet
101 minutes 14 seconds
In Colour
Anamorphic [Panavision]
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011