It’s Vincent Cassel‘s birthday! To mark the occasion, here are five of his best performances. Check some of these out.
La Haine (1995)
La Haine is an explosive look at racial disparity and police brutality in a run-down Paris suburb. Made in 1995, it was way ahead of its time. Cassel plays a young Jewish man with a short temper. He spends his days with his Afro-French and Muslim friends. As they aimlessly progress through their day we get an insight into the daily struggles they go through. They are pretty dislikeable characters, but it’s also easy to empathize with them due to the situation they find themselves in. La Haine is filmed entirely in black and white, has an explosive finale, and is one of the best films of the ’90s.
Mesrine consists of two films, Killer Instinct and Public Enemy #1. They were released in the same year and follow the same character, so it’s only appropriate they are listed together. They are French biographical crime films following the life of French gangster Jacques Mesrine, with the first part being based on Mesrine’s own autobiographical book. In short, he was a great criminal, but a despicable person. Sometimes thought of as the French Scarface, the films feature shootouts, bank robberies, and breakouts. Making for some fantastic entertainment and great character work from Cassel.
Black Swan (2010)
Cassel might not have the biggest part to play in Black Swan, but he has one of the most memorable. It’s a dark and twisted tale, with Cassel playing the part of artistic director Thomas Leroy. He is the man everyone wants to impress in order to advance their career. He uses this fact to his advantage, while pushing things way too far. He is largely responsible for launching the main character Nina into a spiral of doom and mental anguish. Cassel’s intense manner and natural charisma meant he was perfectly suited to the role.
An incredibly difficult film to watch, part of Irreversible’s infamy is due to the intense performance that Vincent Cassel delivers. Gaspar Noe’s best-known film is no walk in the park. It attacks every sense with violence, anxiety, and brutality. In saying that, it’s a film I’m glad I experienced. Even if I’ll never watch it again. The plot unfolds through a reverse timeline, with the first scene we see actually being the story’s conclusion. It might sound confusing, but it’s not. The format works perfectly as we the viewer try to piece together what went wrong, in order for things to end so badly.
Read My Lips (2001)
A classic tale of two individuals from wildly different backgrounds, coming together to form an unlikely bond. Cassel plays Paul, a recently paroled criminal. He finds kinship with Carla, a woman with severe hearing difficulties. They both help each other out in their respective lives. Carla is underappreciated and looked down upon by her work colleagues. Paul is trying to stay out of jail, while struggling not to fall back into his old ways. It gets a little messy towards the end and definitely feels very early 2000s, but it has enough twists and turns to keep you hooked.
What are some of your favorite films to feature birthday boy Vincent Cassel?