Mesrine (Part 1 & 2)

Everybody likes gangsters, those indelible, antisocial movie archetypes such as Capone, Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, and Michael Corleone that leap off the screen. Now, Jacques Mesrine, France’s Public Enemy number one, gets the big-screen treatment. Regarded in France as legendary, Mesrine’s international life of crime demands a two-part film: Mesrine: Killer Instinct(2008) and Mesrine: Public Enemy #1(2008). Director Jean-François Richet (Assault on Precinct 13) lathers on the cinematic frenzy, which earned him a César award (the French Academy Award) for best director.

The psychotic killer, who kept breaking out of maximum-security prisons as soon as he was put in them, is given a mesmerizing macho gloss by French superstar Vincent Cassel (Black Swan, Ocean’s Thirteen, Shrek). He’s so sleek and glamorous, we almost forgive him his trespasses. In an interview before he, too, won a César for his remarkable performance, Cassel said in appreciation, “[Mesrine] was a showman and had a huge ego. He wanted to be looked at as a real thug, much harder than he was, maybe.” Tell that to the 43 people he murdered. 5 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org/films. $6 to $7.
Fri., April 22, 5 p.m.; Sat., April 23, 5 p.m.; Sun., April 24, 3 p.m., 2011

 
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