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A room, a bed, a weary man with his finger on the trigger. The revolver is pointed at his head. The hammer clicks on an empty chamber—apparently the man's time hasn't come yet. Ian, however, doesn't feel like living. This old Russian clown, adrift in a wretched hotel, thought he'd reached the end of the trail. Shots ring out in the hallway. A man rushes into Ian's room and collapses, dead, on the bed. The next instant, his pursuers burst into the room. The old clown lifts his revolver in self-defense—a survival reflex which triggers a long chase. Although Ian wanted to die, danger now gives him the strength to fight back. And he's no longer alone, since he has to save the hide of Lucas, a young priest who took him in after discovering him wounded in the street. The noose begins to tighten around the necks of the two runaways. But a clown's smile is not always kindly
I recognize many sources of inspiration – Melville, Huston and Aldrich – but above all Kurosawa, without whom this screenplay wouldn't exist. "The Clown's Smile" is the story of man whose times no longer offer him any role to play. That's a major theme of samurai films, but the advent of the Meiji era is replaced here by the fall of the Berlin wall. The protagonist's profession, his very existence, no longer has any meaning. At certain moments in history, the lives of certain people are no longer in step with their times. That was the case with knights in Europe in the thirteenth century and cowboys in the early twentieth. And it's the same for our clown.
Eric Besnard – Director, excerpt from press folder