Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Mole, on Eurochannel

Compared to Lino Ventura’s network in Army of Darkness, it looks like Marie-Helene Dumoulin’s “Vaillance” Resistance group had an above-average survival rate. Yet, they are understandably haunted by the memories of their fallen comrades, particularly their charismatic leader Castille. When Dumoulin discovers they were betrayed by an informer, she confronts her fellow survivors, hoping to uncover the truth in Josee Dayan’s The Mole (a.k.a. Marie-Octubre), which premieres this Friday on Eurochannel.

Thirteen years after the war, Dumoulin has built a successful fashion house, named after her Resistance code-name, Marie-Octubre, with the support of her old comrade and current lover, Jerome Massenet. The Vaillance group now spans the social gamut, including a prominent politician, lawyer, and surgeon, as well as a leftist professor, and a failed businessman who is considered little better than a con artist.

Yet, they duly come together to honor Castille. When the eleven are finally assembled (twelve including Massenet’s longtime family servant Clemence), Dumoulin drops her bombshell. During one of her fashion shows, a German buyer rather casually revealed to her his role as a former SS intelligence officer, who received information from a Vaillance turncoat that led to Castille’s death.

Dayan’s remake of the 1959 Julien Duvivier film has the form and tone of an Agatha Christie movie. All the suspects are assembled in one place, where each one’s motives for betrayal are examined one by one. That is also why it is so much fun. Even though it was made for French TV,
The Mole is a terrific French thriller. It is particularly intriguing to see how Vaillance group encompassed leftwing and rightwing extremes, who inevitably point fingers at each other, in the wake of Dumoulin’s accusation.

French grand dame Nathalie Baye is terrific as Dumoulin and Philippe Magnan perfectly compliments her as the lowkey, fatalistic Massenet.
The Mole features another ten French character thesps who look familiar, but many movie fans might not be able to immediately place them. Either way, they are all working at the top of their games.

Dayan is mostly known for television, but his work on
The Mole is worthy of the big screen. It is smart, elegant, and suspenseful mystery. Very highly recommended, The Mole airs 3/29, 3/30, 4/1, 4/4, 4/6, 4/7, 4/8, and 4/9 on Eurochannel (and it streams on Freevee).