Farewell Mr Haffmann Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

 

Paris, 1941 Joseph Huffmann (Daniel Auteuil) is a famous jeweler in the city. He owns a house, on the ground floor of which there is a jewelry salon, underground there is a basement in which there is a workshop, and on the second floor of the building there is an apartment of the Hafmann family.

Joseph keeps an assistant – a certain Francois Mercier (Gilles Lellouche). Francois is not to say that he is a very good worker, but Monsieur Huffmann has not yet picked someone better. In addition, Mercier is very attached to this place: he has a wife, Blanche (Sarah Giraudeau), who works in a laundry, they rent a shabby apartment, and Francois hopes that they will soon be able to get out of there to a more decent place.

Oddly enough, it turned out that they managed to get out of that apartment very quickly. German troops have entered Paris, France is under Nazi occupation, a census of Jews begins in the city, which is likely to be followed by arrests, and Monsieur Huffmann understands that he and his family need to move to a safer place.

Joseph managed to send his family to a safe zone, but he could not leave quickly, as he needs to resolve issues with his property. It is impossible to sell the house and business quickly, and Huffmann has to hurry. And then he offers Francois a deal: the jeweler temporarily transfers the house and business to Mercier, allegedly making out the sale of all this, and Francois promises to transfer everything to the former owner when the Haffmann family can return to Paris. Mercier will continue to run the jewelry business, and Joseph also allows him and Blanche to live in his apartment upstairs.

Francois, of course, agrees – who in their right mind would refuse such a thing?! However, it happens that Joseph could not leave: the situation became very complicated and the familiar carrier refused to take risks even for big money. And now Huffman is forced to hide in the basement of his own house, which no longer belongs to him. Mercier takes a big risk – the Germans can easily shoot him for harboring Jews – but he has his own plans for doing business and for Monsieur Hafmann himself, because he is a very skilled jeweler, Francois cannot be compared with him in this.

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I was advised “Farewell, Monsieur Huffmann” in the comments to the review of the painting “Costume”, which is actually a performance, but it looks fascinating and exciting. I searched for information about the film, found out that two wonderful French actors Daniel Auteuil and Gilles Lellouche are playing there, and I realized that I would definitely watch it.

“Farewell, Monsieur Huffmann” is also actually a performance, where almost all the events take place in one house. Actually, the script is based on the theatrical play of the same name by Jean-Philippe Deguierre. The action unfolds quite slowly, but – just like with the film “The Suit” – it is very exciting to watch. Moreover, there are enough unexpected plot twists here: starting to watch the picture, you kind of understand how events will develop further, but the creators of the picture were able to surprise me.

Daniel Auteuil is one of the best French actors, and he looks equally worthy in completely different genres. A very emotional and reflective Victor in Belle Époque, a tough and principled head of the homicide department Leo in Orfevre Quay 36, a romantic bandit Gustave in Second Wind, while Auteuil also played the idiot Francois Pignon in the comedy Chameleon.

Here he plays a 70-year-old Jewish jeweler who finds himself in an extremely difficult situation, forced to hide in the basement of his house, while he is completely dependent on his recent assistant. Joseph does not show any special emotions, he, of course, is afraid, because he can be discovered and killed at any moment, but he does not allow himself to fall into despair and will wait for events to unfold.

Daniel Auteuil did an excellent job as Monsieur Huffmann: it seems that the role is not particularly difficult and not very advantageous, but the character of the character – although not very expressive means – is demonstrated very well, and we learn a lot about this person in the process of watching.

Gilles Lellouche, along with Jean Dujardin, is one of my favorite actors and he never disappoints me. Gilles is great at playing the roles of all sorts of charming gouging – as, for example, in the film “Little Secrets of a Big Company” or in the film “Right to Left”, – but at the same time he looked great as a harsh and scary mafioso in the film “French Transit”, where, By the way, the second main role was played by Jean Dujardin.

He has a very interesting role in this film. He plays a kind of loser who does not have any clear prospects, and suddenly, quite unexpectedly, Mercier gets “from rags to riches.” Just now, she and Blanche were literally begging and did not know how to get out of this, and suddenly, in the blink of an eye, they have an excellent house, and a business, and a fortune: the jewelry store is full of jewelry, Joseph could not take it away. And it was very interesting to see how this person gradually changes when he finds himself in a completely different social circle, in which he simply, by definition, could not find himself before.

The personality of this Francois Mercier is rather ambiguous. On the one hand, he does not behave very well towards Monsieur Huffman: he refuses to send a letter to Joseph’s family, although sending a letter clearly does not threaten him. But, on the other hand, what prevented him from handing over the jeweler to the Germans: he would have been shot and Francois after that would have known that he owed nothing to anyone? That is, after all, he had some kind of conscience, and he took a big risk by hiding Huffman in his basement. But at the same time, Mercier is running all sorts of his own, not too good-smelling affairs.

In general, the character is not easy, and Lelouch, in my opinion, played him perfectly!

I really liked Sarah Giraudeau, who played Blanche. Initially, it seemed that Blanche was a kind of slightly bitchy lady, always dissatisfied with everything. However, this character later developed well, and many interesting plot twists were associated with Blanche. Sarah played her very well: convincingly, realistically, subtly and touchingly.

Well, another prominent role in this picture is the German officer commandant Yuno, played by Nikolai Kinski (Nastassja Kinski is his father’s sister). The commandant is a great lover of jewelry, he became friends with Mercier, and he appreciates the work of a jeweler so much that he even brings Francois into the society in which high-ranking German officers and their mistresses revolve. An interesting role, the officer turned out to be very characteristic.

Good movie, I really liked it. Everything seems to be quite simple, but the story is interesting, it has some unexpected twists and turns, and it’s all well staged and really well played. I think that the picture is quite worthy of viewing for those who love high-quality films-performances.

PS By the way, the film had a theatrical release, and it collected a good box office of $6.3 million.

Director: Fred Cavaillé Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Gilles Lellouche, Sarah Giraudeau, Nikolai Kinski, Mathilde Bisson, Anne Cosens, Jérôme Cachon, Guillaume Marquet, Yoann Blanc, Pierre Forest

Worldwide gross: $6.3 million
Drama, France-Belgium, 2021, 115 min.

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