(Tomorrow at Dawn)
100 minutes





The relationship between two brothers, the younger of whom is so enthralled by historical battles that he has lost touch with reality. At his mother’s request, Mathieu, the older brother, tries to free his kid brother Paul from his addiction


Production notes:

Shooting began in Paris on September 22, 2008 and continued for nine weeks wrapping up in November. This is Denis Dercourt's fourth feature, which focuses on two male protagonists, played by Vincent and Belgian actor Jérémie Rénier. Co-written by the filmmaker and Jacques Sotty, the film explores the relationship between two brothers. In response to the insistent demands of his cancer-stricken mother, a piano teacher (Perez) tries to cure his younger brother (Rénier) of his strange obsession with historical – and in particular Napoleonic – battles. The older, “model” brother discovers this mysterious passion for which Dercourt has called on battle reconstruction specialists (in particular those in Boulogne-sur-Mer). With cinematography by Rémy Chevrin, the film is being produced by Michel Saint-Jean for Diaphana Films. It has a budget of around €5.5m. This includes co-production backing from France 3 Cinéma and a €480,000 advance on receipts from the National Film Centre (CNC). The movie will be released theatrically by Diaphana in the second half of 2009.

Director Denis Dercourt:  "Vincent Perez has several facets that seem very interesting to me. First of all, he is someone who has a complex career path: he is at the same time an actor, director and photographer. Secondly, and this was very important for the film, Vincent is an actor who is very much identified with period films and period costumes, resulting from films such as Queen Margot, Cyrano de Bergerac and  Le Bossu. He no longer has a real desire to interpret this type of role today, and in my film precisely, you can feel his reluctance to put the costume on, to blend in with the time period. It corresponds well with him. Very quickly, an excellent relationship developed between Jérémie Renier and Vincent, so good that during the shooting, I was often tempted to make scenes last longer, just for the pleasure of filming them together. The further we advanced, the further the story constructed itself around the friendly dimension of the fraternal relationship, and that owing to the beauty of the pair on screen. They are both physical, very focused, very precise actors who are capable of truly surprising things."


Romain Le Vern,
With this title from a poem by Victor Hugo, director Denis Dercourt imparts rumblings under the veneer of appearances. The film examines the relationship between two brothers united by a sick mother.  The eldest is a pianist recognized on an international scale but a man who cannot seem to manage his role as a father and husband. The youngest takes refuge in a world of historic battles to the point of being separated from reality.

Dercourt, director of "The Page Turner", uses a bold subject as a metaphor to decipher the psychological cycle of the two brothers. Everything collapses when the brothers enter each other's world. Dercourt's intent is to maintain the suspense of what is real and unreal, mixing the boundaries between threat and bluff. Above all, he uses the theme of addiction. Oscillating between fluctuating moods and schizophrenia with both humor and tragedy, the film closely mirrors the cinema of Jean-Louis Trintignant in "Une journée bien remplie" (A Full Day's Work -1973)... Vincent Perez has never been better, his best role ever. But by dint of discretion, the film may pass under the radar.

Lisa Nesselson, Screen Daily:
Those who assume classical musicians are sissies may have to adjust their thinking after "Tomorrow At Dawn", in which classical music meets historical battle re-enactments to excellent effect. As with his "The Page Turner" - also an Un Certain Regard selection and the most widely sold French film at Cannes in 2006 - writer-director Denis Dercourt establishes a mood of constant unease throughout. The viewer can sense that bad things will happen without ever knowing when or in what form, and the punchline of this tale is a satisfying surprise.

Set in a masculine world, the film has already sold to several French-speaking territories and should readily find additional takers. By combining a milieu he knows well (Dercourt is a professional viola player who teaches at the Conservatory in Strasbourg) and one he has meticulously researched (the part-nerdy/part-manly and increasingly popular realm of battle reenactments), the filmmaker has hit on an unusual combo that could make a few inroads beyond the art house circuit.

The film starts involvingly with a cluster of men in late 18th century military attire preparing for a swordfight in a misty field. The effort expended by the two adversaries, punctuated by the clang of metal, is thrilling. One opponent draws blood. Cut to a contemporary setting in which concert pianist and composer Mathieu (Vincent Perez) is giving a piano lesson in the tasteful salon of the apartment he shares with his wife and young son.

After the lesson, he drives to the suburban Paris house where his seriously ailing mother (Françoise Lebrun) lives with Mathieu’s younger brother Paul (Jérémie Renier). She will soon leave for a long hospital stay and knows Paul’s emotional stability depends on Mathieu’s support in her absence. Paul works in a warehouse but devotes all his spare time to a clandestine battle re-enactment group centred on two regiments of Emperor Napoleon’s forces.

To say that participants are deadly serious about dressing up and pointing vintage weapons at each other while speaking in the ultra-formal language of a bygone France would be an understatement. In a deftly written series of interactions, Mathieu attends a weekend bivouac and suits up to humour his brother, only to find himself implicated in matters of honour whose ramifications go far beyond play-acting.

Perez, who has several important costume pictures to his credit (Queen Margot, Cyrano De Bergerac, Fanfan La Tulipe) looks well in uniform and handles vintage weapons with flair, in addition to playing short piano passages well enough to convince as an acclaimed pianist. His elegant manners and controlled anger contrast well with Renier’s boyish enthusiasm.Aurelien Recoing is spot-on as a military commander not easily satisfied.

Straightforward but effective widescreen filming and editing keep several emotional layers percolating simultaneously. Dercourt doles out information in gradual doses, toggling back and forth between the demands of the Napoleonic Wars and the obligations of everyday life, until the two are intertwined on a level that demands action. As with Dercourt’s five previous features, the musical score is perfectly chosen and smartly applied.

There was a hint of Barry Lyndon in the air this afternoon at the screening of Denis Dercourt’s subtle "Tomorrow at Dawn", presented in official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, in the Un Certain Regard section, which screened the director’s previous work, "The Page Turner" in 2006. Indeed, the original director, who still practises his other profession of violin teacher, sets his story in the astonishing world of fans of historical reconstructions, in this case the Napoleonic army period. This backdrop becomes a dangerous spiral for two brothers.

The plot opens with the return to the family home of Mathieu (an understated and remarkable Vincent Perez), a famous pianist in the midst of an existential and marital crisis, whose mother has to be admitted to hospital for chemotherapy. The older brother comes to keep his younger sibling, the overly sensitive Paul (solidly performed by Jérémie Rénier), company. The latter, a blue-collar worker, is totally enthralled by historical role-play, throwing himself into it as if it were a real-life situation and trying to share his passion with his brother.

Out of brotherly love, Mathieu agrees to join in the experience, but gradually realises that, beneath the disguise, lies a sort of fanatical sect, whose followers’ convictions go dangerously beyond the forest and increasingly realistic military reconstructions.

The musician, nicknamed "Far from the bullets" (for a pianist, "struts about, but isn’t much use on the battlefield") initially gets caught up in the game, before realising that he can’t cope any longer and has to fight for his honour, but above all his life and that of those close to him.

Plunging viewers into impressive period reconstructions, perfectly complemented by the protagonists’ naturalness, from bivouacs and duels in secluded natural surroundings, to a sumptuous candlelit dinner at which the "Emperor’s brave soldiers" recount their exploits to the ladies and provoke their comrades in arms, "Tomorrow at Dawn" confirms Dercourt’s talent and fluid directorial style.

Marrying apparent simplicity with an accomplished command of lighting, camera movements and rhythm, the director offers an elegant and intriguing thriller-like film, which demonstrates a certain perceptiveness in its treatment of human relationships (brotherly bonds, maternal illness, problems experienced by a couple, pupil-teacher relations), whilst negotiating the musical dimension with great ease (on screen and off). This talented combination belongs to an all-round artist, who prefers restrained tension and stylistic subtlety to ostentatious display.

Matt Bochenski, Cannes 2009: Reviews & Musings:
What felt like the first ‘regular’ film I saw all day was also the last, Denis Dercourt’s sumptuous "Tomorrow at  Dawn." It begins with a rousing prologue that sees Jeremie Renier engaged in a duel to defend the honour of the Second Hussars. It’s a deft piece of misdirection, because this is actually a modern, middle-class tale of Renier’s brother, a pianist played by Vincent Perez who is having a mid-life crisis. He leaves his wife and kid to live in his sick mother’s house, where his brother pulls him in to a world of role play that gets frighteningly real. Chicly photographed and well performed, it shares a theme common to several of the films I’ve seen here – about the way in which the true horror and madness of the human condition can show itself in the unlikeliest places. It all leads to a terrific pay off, which was greeted with sustained applause.

Télé Ciné Obs:
Brilliant -
 Denis Dercourt has the good taste, increasingly rare, of a director to uphold the two cardinal virtues of the cinema: the scenario and actors. On a tempo crescendo without fault, the film offers Vincent Perez his richest role.

Gilles Renault, Libération:
Denis Dercourt (The Page Turner) proposes once again an extremely original and ambitious project, of a rare conceptual insolence within the well surveyed framework of the French cinema. Its film plunges us among the odd community of role playing... Among the feats of successful ingenuity by Denis Dercourt, there is this dry tone and this traditional clarity of setting up scenes despite the baroque richness of the battles, the characters and the film's subject. He thus manages to capture the right balance.


Vincent Perez.....Mathieu
Jérémie Renier.....Paul
Gérald Laroche.....Major Rogart
Françoise LeBrun.....Claire Guibert
Anne Marivin....Jeanne
Barbara Probst.....Christelle
Aurélien Recoing.....Capitaine Déprées


Directed by.....Denis Dercourt
Written by.....Denis Dercourt
Cinematography by.....Remy Chevrin
Music by.....Jerome Lemonnier


Premiered at Cannes under "Un Certain Regard" on May 19, 2009

Screened at the following film festivals:
Cannes Int'l Film Festival - May 2009
Montreal du nouveau cinema - October 2009
Golden Horse Film Festival (Taiwan) - November 2009

French theatre release: August 12, 2009

French DVD release: February 11, 2010


2009 Cannes photos

  Golden Horse Film Festival photos



Production Photos


Publicity Photos