The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch (2008) is a film that changes your perspective on how movies should be made. The characters come from around the world, which allows for easy transitions between several languages as settings change. The film has subtitles, yet many of the characters are in business or finance, and come from the UK or the US, so English is spoken through whole scenes.
Largo Winch is the mystery son of a murdered billionaire, who has to prove his identity to save his father’s empire while solving the murder. The story weaves around the world and through time as glimpses of Largo’s youth and education are told. The film has several groups of characters creating subplots that are followed throughout. For a simple – made for the masses – suspense/adventure movie, Largo Winch delivers more than expected. Even more than its 24 million Euro budget might suggest.
The casting for this film is amazing. The main characters and actors of the film are French; however, many of the supporting actors are from the UK and Yugoslavia and dozens of bit parts are played by actors from around the world. Casting this way allows for seamless transitions from one place to the next. The issue with this technique is some of the tertiary actors display their acting inexperience. The film studio was based in Paris, but filming took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Italy; mainland China; Hong Kong, China; and Malta. This ability to transcend both language and location through the characters and sites produces a believable story and realistic settings.
When watching the film one issue is how it creates movement through time. In film jumping backwards through time is effective; however, this film too often flashes back to fill in bits about Largo’s past without prior warning. Some of these flashback are narrated, which helps the viewer, but often this film is forcing you to keep track of time relative to 2008. The film informs the viewer with text of the setting and year, but without clues in the dialogue as to why the film is going back to Largo’s youth there is a disjointed sense once you arrive. The new scene quickly informs you what is happening in the past and how it relates to the plot, so this technique does round-out the character of Largo well despite lacking some coherency in its efforts.
Largo Winch works all of the angles of a good action movie and a squeal was made in 2011. More excitingly writer/director Jérôme Salle – Anthony Zimmer (2005) which was remade as The Tourist (2010) – is teaming up with his screenplay writer from Largo - Julien Rappeneau – to create Zulu (2013), a film set in South Africa and reported to include Orlando Bloom as a South African police investigator.
After seeing Salle’s Largo Winch, I’m excited to keep track of the new films by him and will make an effort to visit his break-out piece, Anthony Zimmer.