|Directed by||Bertrand Tavernier|
|Produced by||Frédéric Bourboulon
|Written by||Bertrand Tavernier
|Music by||Antoine Duhamel|
|Edited by||Sophie Brunet|
|Distributed by||Bac Films
|Release dates||January 9, 2002|
|Running time||170 minutes|
|Budget||$ 13.3 million|
The film is about the French film industry from 1942 to 1944 during the Nazi occupation. The film focuses on assistant director and resistance fighter Jean Devaivre and screenwriter Jean Aurenche. Aurenche is on the move so that he doesn't have to write anything collaborationist. Devaivre is in dangerous political activity. Devaivre also works for the German production company Continental where he is respected. On the other hand, Aurenche's scriptwriting doesn't help how he lives and he is a womanizer which causes him to procrastinate.
- Jacques Gamblin as Jean-Devaivre
- Denis Podalydès as Jean Aurenche
- Charlotte Kady as Suzanne Raymond
- Christian Berkel as Dr. Greven
- Marie Gillain as Olga
- Olivier Gourmet as Roger Richebé
- Marie Desgranges as Simone Devaivre
- Ged Marlon as Jean-Paul Le Chanois
- Philippe Morier-Genoud as Maurice Tourneur
- Laurent Schilling as Charles Spaak
- Maria Pitarresi as Reine Sorignal
- Richard Sammel as Richard Pottier
- Philippe Saïd as Pierre Nord
- Liliane Rovère as Mémaine
- Götz Burger as Bauermeister
- Jacques Boudet as café owner
- Henri Attal as Raoul
The film is based on French director Jean-Devaivre's memoirs. Bertrand Tavernier felt compelled to tell the story because of his interest in reviving films from 1942 to 1944 and because he has friendships with key figures from those films. Principle filming began November 6, 2000.
The real life Devaivre sued director Tavernier because he wanted his name bigger than Aurenche's in the credits. Tavernier's enemies, including Cahiers du Cinéma and Le Monde, attacked him because they thought that he was attacking the French New Wave when he portrayed the characters of Aurenche and Bost in a positive light. Tavernier thought that it was crazy that they were attacking him and pointed out that he had worked with Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Agnès Varda, and Jacques Demy and did not oppose any of their works. French critics think that the film supports passitivity and collaboration as well as appealing to the conservative elements of French film-making.
In January 2002 a Paris court ruled that Tavernier was required to rewrite the screen credits to ensure full acknowledgement be given to Jean Devaivre, who in his lawsuit claimed Tavernier duped him for commercial reasons. Devaivre had accused Tavernier of twisting the truth, and demanded the film to be withdrawn from distribution after claiming that Tavernier "deceived, robbed and betrayed artistic creation and my friendship for commercial reasons". In return Tavernier implied that the quarrel was about money, rather than truth, stating "The man whom he called 'my hero' had at first refused any payment, but his family later demanded both recompense and acknowledgement that the work was inspired by the autobiography." Judge Francis Delphin said that Laissez-passer could not go on the festival circuit without recognition of Devaivre's contribution.
Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review and 4 out of 4 stars. Kent Turner of Film-Forward said that the acting is unfocused because the acting is understated and appears in many moments to be improvisational. Jürgen Fauth, of About.com, said that Tavernier has woven a rich tapestry that never hits the dramatic high point, the life-and-death crisis that Hollywood has trained us to expect, but that the film still satisfies through its continually compelling surface, the kaleidoscopic scope of its attention, the large and small stories it tells. Holly E. Ordway, of DVD Talk, said that the film will probably be enjoyed by devotees of French cinema who are well-versed in the history of the art, but that it's not worth watching for anyone else.
Lisa Besselson of Variety felt that the film could have offered a greater insight into French film industry during a complex historical era. While noting that some of the best-handled content did not appear until 2 hours into the film, what was perceived as an unnecessary length detracted. She predicted the film "will reap the movie plenty of attention and elicit praise from French crix and essayists".
In reviewing the top 10 films of 2002, David Parkinson of The Oxford Times wrote that with France's Vichy era still considered a taboo topic in that country, it was not surprising that Laissez-passer "would inflame passions". He further noted that by Tavernier including names of films and film-makers that would have little historical significance to scholars, the film was a missed opportunity that "only fleetingly captures the atmosphere of suspicion and repression that existed on the studio floor or the impact the resulting pictures made on the populace".
Jacques Gamblin won the Silver Bear for Best Actor and Antoine Duhamel won Best Original Score at the Berlin International Film Festival both in 2001 and 2002. Emile Ghigo was nominated for Best Production Design and Antoine Duhamel was nominated for Best Original Score at the French Academy of Cinema. Bertrand Tavernier won Best Director, Best Film, and Best Screenplay at the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival.
- New York Film Festival
- City of Lights, City of Angels Festival
- Berlin Film Festival
- Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival
- LA French Film Festival
The DVD has a 2.35:1 picture and Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The special features is a theatrical trailer, an interview with the director, and production notes. The language is French with English subtitles. The DVD was released on November 2002 in the United Kingdom and the United States.
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