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Critics reviews
Panique
Julien Duvivier France, 1946
From such simple visual ploys as associating Hire with windows—his first entry into the hotel is traced through a series of panes, and the casement through which he spies on Alice figures prominently, while she in turn is associated with mirrors—to the film’s elaborate scaffolding of recurrent motifs, Panique displays great formal authority.
December 18, 2018
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Blending trenchant cynicism with a sensibility attuned to unguarded moments of humanity, Panique is a virtuosically staged and politically resonant meditation on hypocrisy and corruption that shows how conformist societies prey on helpless innocents.
November 02, 2018
Duvivier, who spent World War II in the United States—like many European refugees from the fighting—also takes care to suggest that Hire is both Frenchman and a Jew. It’s this identity, we gather, that most upsets his neighbors in a Parisian suburb: they vaguely suspect him of wrongdoing, frame him for a crime he didn’t commit, and finally hound him to the rooftops, in a truly distressing final sequence.
January 31, 2017
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It’s something altogether more bracing and terrifying: a tingling, compact, kaleidoscopic thriller that conveys a potent and sardonic worldview. Seeing it today in a beautifully modulated print, with Lenny Borger’s lucid and colloquial subtitles, should send shivers through audiences already worried about mob rule, enforced conformity, and a willingness to pin blame on anyone different… Duvivier turns Simenon’s story into an exciting succession of psychological cliffhangers.
January 19, 2017
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It’s a joy to watch, because Duvivier is a master of shadows, of movement, of blocking. His film has the deep blacks and dark impulses of film noir but also the expansive, sociological sweep of a Western, with its portrait of a community on edge. His camera moves with purpose and power, exploring the full geography of a space — a geography that, we suspect, will later become crucial. He goes to town on the material’s visual potential, and a visiting carnival adds an extra sense of delirium.
January 18, 2017
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