Film About French Wrongful Conviction Case Highlights Boston Film Festival

July 9, 2012

Here’s the summary of the movie: “Présumé coupable,” as it is titled in France, is one of several dramas in the festival that offers a provocative take on actual events.

Director Vincent Garenq gives this harrowing story a gritty documentary style as it chronicles the saga of Alain Marécaux, a respected bailiff, husband, and father who is accused, along with 16 others, of raping children in the small Normandy town of Outreau in 2001. “L’affaire d’Outreau” was a scandal that, according to the credits, is considered the most egregious miscarriage of justice in France since World War II.

Philippe Torreton, one of France’s most heralded actors, gives a tour de force performance as the falsely accused Marécaux but not in the Oscar-gunning way that one would expect from a Hollywood version. As he battles a Kafkaesque system, endures the humiliations of prison, and watches his life fall apart, Torreton gives a performance that isn’t showy or sensational; he’s a naturalistic everyman caught in a nightmarish web of injustice.

Noémie Lvovsky is also memorable as Marécaux’s wife, who is implicated in the accuser’s lies.