Le Couperet

Rated 4.0

Don’t miss out on the Sacramento Film Festival’s special presentation of this still-timely 2005 satirical thriller, adapted from the Donald E. Westlake novel by writer-director-provocateur Costa-Gavras. “The Ax,” it’s called in English, as in: Two years after getting the ax, a former middle manager concocts and enacts a nefarious plan to eliminate his corporate job-search competition. He is excellently played with supple bourgeois desperation by José Garcia, a sort of Euro Robert Downey Jr., and his essential supporting cast includes Karin Viard, who between this and Laurent Cantet’s Time Out, from 2001, has proven herself a specialist as the suffering spouse of middle-aged men downsized into criminality. Yes, down he goes, bringing us along on a path strewn with dark pearls of suspense, morbid humor and political speechifying; typical of Costa-Gavras, the movie is agile but arch, and at its finest when relishing its own contrivance.