La Mentale (The Code) (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I'll be damned if I can figure out how people decide which French films to distribute in America. I can see the logic in distributing great movies, movies that are uniquely French, or movies that provide something fresh and creative that can't be seen in American films.

What I can't follow is the logic in distributing a grade B French copy of an American genre film! If we wanted to see a film like La Mentale, there are about 10 Hollywood movies and 10 indies with this exact same premise every year, and they have the extra benefit of being in English.

This film has absolutely no American audience. It has no appeal to the intellectual Francophiles who adore French cinema, and it has no appeal to mainstream audiences who would go to see a French film if it were truly special, ala Amelie. The type of Americans who want to see this kind of film are not the same type that go to movies with subtitles, especially when the film covers no new ground at all.

What's it about?

I'll give you the start of the premise. Let me see if you can guess the rest.

A criminal is released from jail. He is determined to work a regular job and make a decent life with his beautiful straight-arrow girlfriend, but his old criminal buddies want him to come back for ____________.

Is your answer locked in?

If you guessed anything else besides "one last big job", shame on you. This has now been the premise of about every third film since the Lumieres screened their first film. In fact, this very plot was probably in the Lumieres' second film.


Marie Guillard shows a nipple in the opening credits. Very promising, but that is the only nudity except for two anonymous topless women at a sex club.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic. solid transfer

Our ex-con gets drawn in deeper. Yadda yadda. Gang wars. Yadda Yadda. Turf battle. Yadda yadda. Ex-girlfriends. Innocent people killed. Yadda yadda. Bloody shoot out. Tragedy. Yak yak. And so forth.

If this really appeals to you, you should be able to find a few hundred American movies with the same plot, better production values, and no subtitles.

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

  • The total gross was $12,000.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-, a minimal level genre film, if you speak French. If you don't speak French, it is an E, and there is absolutely no reason to see it.

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