August 21, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Capitaine Conan

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
performer
Samuel Le Bihan, Philippe Torreton
genre
Foreign Language, Historical, Drama

Plenty of people die in wartime; for others, it’s the only time they feel truly alive. Take Captain Conan (Torreton), a fiercely independent yet dedicated WWI officer who leads his company to heroism in the trenches of Eastern Europe. What is he to do once the fighting stops? That is the question posed by this French drama, which won director Bertrand Tavernier (‘Round Midnight) and Torreton Césars (their country’s Oscar). Peopled with self-centered soldiers, pompous army brass, and caviling aristocrats, Conan unfolds as vividly and gracefully as the best 19th-century novel, but it’s Torreton’s fiery turn that yields the timeless truth. American viewers may find themselves expecting this story to end with a Hollywood bang; instead, it ends with a moan, as all real tragedies do. A-

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