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Video Review: 'La Sentinelle'

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You’d think that a movie about a medical intern who finds a severed head in his suitcase would be a thriller. Arnaud Desplechin’s 1992 directorial debut, however, turns out to be a muted philosophical drama, in which the questions of who placed the head in the bag, and why, are less important than the mystery noggin’s disquieting effect on the young man’s psyche. Salinger’s a rather wan screen presence, and the film’s both overlong and undercooked; but the head, frequently seen in lingering close-up, is so realistically gruesome that you wind up transfixed anyhow. B-