A movie for every day of the year – a good one
Warren Buffett born, 1930
On this day in 1930, the business magnate Warren Edward Buffett was born, in Omaha, Nebraska, the second of the three children of a father who was a US congressman and stockbroker. At age 11 Warren bought his first shares. He filed his first tax return aged 14, on income earned from delivering newspapers and selling door to door. The following year he bought a pin table and installed it in a barber’s shop. On leaving school in 1947, his report read – “likes math; a future stockbroker”. After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln he went to Columbia Business School, where he came under the influence of Benjamin Graham, author of The Intelligent Investor, one of the key works in the “value investing” canon. By the age of 26, having worked in various stockbroking companies, he had started his own partnership. By 2008, after careful buying of unsexy stocks, he was the richest man in the world.
11.6 (2013, dir: Philippe Godeau)
I’m a big fan of François Cluzet, who seems to be able to do comedy (see Untouchable aka Intouchables) as well as more muscular thriller fare, which is what he’s dabbling in here. He plays the security guard who has worked for a company for ten years, is now one of the riders on an armoured truck that does bank runs. A safe pair of hands. 11.6 tells the true story of what happened when, after years of loyal service, this guy Toni Musulin suddenly snapped and decided to heist a whole load of money – €11.6 million, in fact, in November 2009. This is a strange kind of heist movie for several reasons. For one, it doesn’t see the heist itself as an extreme example of capitalist enterprise (see Soderbergh’s Oceans films, for example) but as part of the French revolutionary tradition of taking down institutions when the institutions no longer work for the benefit of the people. There’s also Cluzet’s performance, as the guy just coming into the last straight before retirement, just on the verge of being treated as an old man by his joshing and very jockish colleagues, permanently seething because he, and his fellow guards, are treated as worthless pieces of shit by the employers. It’s the story of the guy who, in the words of Freddie Mercury, wants to break free, but might have left it just a touch too late. And all this hesitancy and doubt is etched across Cluzet’s features, who makes this a film about the loss of virility, potency, youth, the arrival of old age, just as much as one about a guy who steals a huge load of money, kind of justifiably. The heist itself is simplicity itself, and I won’t go into it. What’s fascinating is the way that we have been primed for something by the fairly unlikeable Musulin’s increasingly odd behaviour. Where, for example, did he get the money to buy a Ferrari F430? Is it just so he can take his girl out for the night of her life, so he can feel like a man again? Little explanation is given. In fact here and there the sheer impenetrability of the film is a bit of problem, inscrutability being bearable only in small doses.
There are many compensations beyond Cluzet himself. Michel Amathieu’s stygian cinematography for one (you might remember 1997’s Dobermann, which he also shot way down in the dark register). And the soundtrack of modern chillout, club vibes, electro beats, adds a mocking layer to Cluzet’s portrait – is this the oldest swinger in town?
No, it’s not perfect, but it is worth holding out till the end of this film, because the suspicion still exists that the real Musulin didn’t just plan the heist, he also planned his own capture and imprisonment – he received a maximum term of only three years because he pulled off the robbery without guns or violence. Which makes him a very clever man indeed, and doubly the folk hero that he became.
- François Cluzet’s performance
- Michel Amathieu’s cinematography
- A great story well told
- Add to the list of “we hate the banks” dramas post 2008
© Steve Morrissey 2014