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Plender (Clovis Cornillac) is officially a private detective ... but
actually he makes most of his money as an extortionist, and his latest
victim is photographer Vincent (Yvan Attal), who goes through a messy
divorce and is fighting over custody for his children. Plender has him
drugged and then photographed in compromising positions with model Sofia
(Olga Kurylenko). Thing is, when Sofia leaves Vincent's studio, where the
photos were taken, she falls down some stairs to her death. Being
confronted with the girl's body, Plender immediately calls his
lawyer-friend Sam (Simon Abkarian), but when Sam finally arrives, the body
is gone ... only to later turn up in the trunk of Vincent's car.
home, with the corpse in the back, Vincent's car is hit by Plender's - who
turns out to be Vincent's buddy from school, and who now acts as if he was
his best friend ... without letting Vincent know of course he's
blackmailing him. Thing is, Plender and Vincent never really were friends
at school, Plender was a loner and weirdo and the butt of everyone's
jokes, until one of these jokes accidently went too far ... and now
Plender obviously wants revenge.
Soon, Plender forces his way into the
life of Vincent and his still-wife Hélène (Minna Haapkylä), still
pretending to be Vincent's best friend ... and one night, stealing
Vincent's car to have it fixed, to have the body removed - and then
returning it. And then, he shows his true colours and demands half a
million Euros from Vincent.
Vincent does his best to get out of the
situation, even tries to give himself up to the police (who find
themselves unable to act without an actual body), and he tries to get his
friend Sam to help him. Sam soon digs in Plender's past and comes up with
a few things - only to be killed by Plender, who then makes it look like
When Sofia's body is finally found, Vincent is arrested,
but he escapes police custody and tracks down Cendras (Pierre Richard),
another of Plender's blackmail victims, and together they try to beat
Plender with his own weapons ... by stealing the body of his mother from
her grave, the only person who was ever dear to Plender. But it seems
Plender is already one step or two ahead of them since he has wormed his
way into Vincent and Hélène's house and taken Hélène and the kids
hostage. But still, he walks into a trap set up by Vincent and Cendras and
is ultimately shot by the police ... but by that time, he has already
locked Hélène and the kids into a freezer - and Vincent only manages to
find them at the very last minute ...
By and large, Le
Serpent is a pretty suspenseful and tense thriller ... but that said,
at times it's also terribly constructed and a bit too convoluted to ever
reach its full potential, while the direction lacks inventiveness and
atmosphere. That said, the film is still competently enough handled to
keep one interested for almost two hours of running time, and Clovis
Cornillac is certainly creepy enough as the film's villain.