10 Best Vincent Cassel Movies, Ranked

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Vincent Cassel
is among the most influential and beloved figures in French (and global) cinema. Since he’s possibly more famous for his turbulent marriage to
Monica Bellucci
and long-lasting sex-symbol status than for his movie career, these could be the reasons
Cassel is slightly underrated as a performer
. Sometimes controversial but always charming, Cassel has a truly long acting career behind him. He began acting in
Mathieu Kassovitz
‘s
Métisse
in 1993, but found international and lasting fame from portraying Vinz in 1995’s
La Haine
.Though the roles he’s been cast in could be considered within a certain mould (aggressive, seductive, and angry man),
Cassel has displayed tremendous range over the years
. Whether as a notorious criminal, the King of France himself, or an aggressive teen in the
banlieues
of Paris, Vincent Cassel’s greatest roles could give folks new material to watch and rewatch. His most recent feature was the
AppleTV+ original series Liaison with Eva Green
, but for movie buffs, there is plenty to choose from, with ten of his best movies as a good start.

10 ‘Brotherhood of the Wolf’ (2001)

‘Le Pacte Des Loups,’ as Jean-François de Morangias

The 2000s were a great time for French blockbusters; from the beloved Amélie to the comedy classics like Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra and Taxi 3, there was a lot to be happy about going to the cinema. In 2001, one of the movies worth watching in a dark room, with popcorn in the lap, and a massive screen in front was Brotherhood of the Wolf.

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Loosely based on true events that took place in the 1760s in Gévaudan (today’s Lozère), Brotherhood of the Wolf follows the knight Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his Iroquois friend Mani (Mark Dacascos) in the attempt to solve the mystery behind the brutal murders in the area. De Fronsac and Mani encounter numerous characters that behave suspiciously or seem to have a hidden agenda, among which is the hunting enthusiast and royalty Jean-François de Morangias (Vincent Cassel).

The real-life murders were never resolved, and many believe a large wolf was at the center of the events; the creators of Brotherhood of the Wolf took this historical tale and gave it a conspiracy-like spin, introducing a lot more adventurous and thrilling elements into the plot. Cassel’s Jean-François is a classic villain in plain sight who can’t be harmed or stopped because of his status and influence. This is one of almost a dozen movies Cassel appeared in with his then-wife Monica Bellucci.

Brotherhood of the Wolf
Release Date
January 31, 2001

Director
Christophe Gans

Runtime
142

Stream on AppleTV+

9 ‘The Apartment’ (1996)

‘L’Appartement,’ as Max Mayer

Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci met while filming The Apartment, or L’Appartement, becoming what was later affirmed by many as « cinema’s most glamorous couple. » The plot of The Apartment follows Max (Cassel), a young writer who never really got over his ex-girlfriend Lisa (Bellucci), despite now being engaged to Muriel (Sandrine Kiberlain). Max sees Lisa in a café one day and decides to cancel all his plans to pursue and see her once again.

But, Lisa’s roommate Alice (Romane Bohringer) intercepts Max’s plans and seduces him. The thrill of the chase, the tension of Max and Lisa constantly missing each other, and the numerous plot twists make The Apartment more than a simple romantic drama. As the leading man, Cassel exudes romantic sentiment and adoration with every action. He’s spellbound and captivated by Lisa’s beauty and essence, showing the viewer she is indeed « the one that got away » in his mind. This makes Max gullible and easy to deceive, as well as impulsive. The Apartment is considered a great noir film, too.

Stream on Amazon

8 ‘My King’ (2015)

‘Mon Roi,’ as Georgio Milevski

My King, or Mon Roi originally, is about Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot), a woman who gets admitted into rehab after a bad skiing accident. There, she’s forced to go through physical and psychological therapy, which results in her reminiscing about her relationship with a man named Georgio (Vincent Cassel). Georgio is a man who never apologizes, doesn’t believe his actions affect others, and makes excuses without taking responsibility. Tony meets him in a nightclub one day, and their relationship begins immediately. She’s a lawyer with a prospecting career, and is attracted to Georgio because of his joie de vivre and ability to just go with the flow.

Cassel portrays an ultimately narcissistic man, but as he and the director Maïwenn agreed, Georgio wasn’t meant to be the villain of the story. His urges, life, and desires were meant to be displayed objectively, but their impact on Tony is more than visible; this makes Mon Roi nuanced and complex, but confusing in terms of what it really wished to portray. In any case, Bercot and Cassel have great and intense chemistry, and are exceptional actors.

Stream on AppleTV+

7 ‘Elizabeth’ (1998)

As Duke d’Anjou

The beloved drama about Queen Elizabeth I, Elizabeth, has a memorable ensemble cast. Cate Blanchett was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for the fierce portrayal of Queen Elizabeth; the rest of the cast include Joseph Fiennes, Christopher Eccleston, Emily Mortimer, and Vincent Cassel, among many. The movie follows the rise of Queen Elizabeth I, the only surviving child of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. After Boleyn was executed, her marriage to Henry was annulled and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate.

When her step-sister Mary I died, Elizabeth became the next Queen of England by relation. At 25, young Elizabeth was crowned, and her career as monarch continued until 1603. She was known for many things – from being the virgin queen to being scholarly and adamant. She refused to get married all of her life, and the movie presents stories of her council suggesting potential husbands, strategic moves, and defense strategies.

The movie also puts her and Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes) into an affair, and introduces numerous potential suitors. One of them was Duke d’Anjou, played by Vincent Cassel. Duke Henry d’Anjou was the King of France; his lifestyle was often questioned by historians, which is something the movie took and depicted very loosely. Cassel fits into the role of the extravagant Henry d’Anjou perfectly, a hedonist who enjoys behaviors « unfit » for a ruling monarch.

Watch on Amazon

6 ‘Irreversible’ (2002)

‘Irréversible,’ as Marcus

Though Gaspar Noé is a boundary-pushing filmmaker, none of his movies are as controversial and disturbing as 2002’s Irreversible. Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci, and Albert Dupontel play a group of friends whose one seemingly ordinary night out turns into a complete nightmare. While explaining the plot more would include spoilers and ruin the movie for first-time viewers, this isn’t exactly a highly recommended movie (thoughit should be watched for its uniqueness). It’s a groundbreaking study of time and how life can turn into a hellish nightmare within a span of minutes.

Cassel and Dupontel riff off of each other seamlessly while portraying raw aggression, hate, and rage during the most shocking parts of the film, but also camaraderie during the calmer parts. Meanwhile, Cassel and Bellucci are natural at playing a loving couple in a passionate relationship. The study of Irreversible shows a brilliant outlook on cinema, but Noé gave it a new life by re-cutting it into chronological order and releasing it as Irreversible: Straight Cut.

Irreversible
Release Date
May 22, 2002

Director
Gaspar Noe

Runtime
97

Tagline
Time destroys everything.

Watch on Amazon

5 ‘Read My Lips’ (2001)

‘Sur Mes Lèvres,’ as Paul Angeli

A captivating crime caper, a gritty thriller, or a revenge drama? Read My Lipsdoesn’t choose – it’s all of those things. The viewers are introduced to Carla (Emmanuelle Devos), a deaf woman, putting on her hearing aid in the first scene; she’s disrespected and disliked by her colleagues and has an immense workload. Balancing these things proves nearly impossible for her, forcing her to start rethinking her career and life.

When her boss suggests she hire an assistant, Carla encounters a handsome but unkempt Paul (Vincent Cassel). He is younger than her and inexperienced in the work she expects of him, but supports her and is a fast learner. This prompts a fast relationship between Carla and Paul that escalates into crime and passion. Vincent Cassel is the ideal person to play Paul – a charming man with a seductive allure and a bad boy side; meanwhile, Emmanuelle Devos, a French cinema icon, stuns as the repressed Carla. This role earned Devos the prestigious César Award for Best Actress.

Watch on Amazon

4 ‘Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct’ & ‘Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy Number 1’ (2008)

‘L’instinct de Mort’ & ‘L’ennemi Public N°1,’ as Jacques Mesrine

A lot of cinema fans consider Mesrine to be Vincent Cassel’s best movie performance. He takes the lead both in name and in stature, as Jacques Mesrine, a notorious French gangster who was considered public enemy no. 1 during the 1970s. The story is divided into two parts – Killer Instinct is based on Mesrine’s autobiographical book of the same name, while Public Enemy No. 1 focuses on Mesrine’s crimes and time of notoriety.

Jacques Mesrine committed numerous heavy crimes, from robbery to murder, but was somewhat of a hero during his active days; Cassel stated his initial efforts to portray Mesrine only as a public enemy, but it was impossible to deny the allure of his persona (much like Pablo Escobar and similar criminal figures). Whatever the intention behind his portrayal of Mesrine was, Cassel succeeded in transforming into the man of 1000 faces seamlessly. Many folks who didn’t know about Jacques Mesrine seemingly fell for him after watching the two-part spectacle, which is a testament to Cassel’s acting skills.

Mesrine: Killer Instinct
Release Date
October 22, 2008

Director
Jean-François Richet

Runtime
113

Main Genre
Crime

Watch on Amazon

3 ‘Eastern Promises’ (2007)

As Kirill

Eastern Promises is the interesting (and highly successful) combination of David Cronenberg in the director’s chair and Steven Knight as the screenwriter. Considered the best Cronenberg movie by many, Eastern Promises sees his favorite actor, Viggo Mortensen, portray a quiet but deadly Nikolai Luzhin. Luzhin is the right-hand-man to Semyon, a leading figure among the London-based Russian mafia. Vincent Cassel plays Semyon’s son, the angry and immature Kirill; Kirill makes the wrong choices all the time, which one day leads to a chain of intense criminal events.

Luzhin isn’t just there to take care of Kirill’s mess. He quickly realizes he’ll have to do things all alone, and saving his own life is on the line. Viggo Mortensen shows a great display of fighting skills, while Cassel portrays a villainous, cowardly role very convincingly. Eastern Promises remains one of the best action thrillers of the 2000s, and shows the potential Cronenberg has always been able to draw out of Mortensen (this is one of four films they did together). The potential was so great, in fact, that Mortensen received a Best Actor nomination at the 2008 Oscars.

Eastern Promises
Release Date
September 14, 2007

Cast
Josef Altin , Mina E. Mina , Aleksander Mikic , Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse , Lalita Ahmed , Badi Uzzaman

Runtime
100

Main Genre
Crime

Tagline
Every sin leaves a mark.

Watch on Hulu

2 ‘Black Swan’ (2010)

As Thomas Le Roy, The Gentleman

Darren Aronofsky‘s Black Swan swept award shows when it came out. This psychological thriller/horror dabbles with the idea of doppelgängers and dedication to a craft. It’s an exploration of art and its participants, and the lengths they’d go to achieve perfection. Nina (Natalie Portman) is an outstanding ballerina, and is the main choice for the role of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake. Her ballet mentor, Thomas (Vincent Cassel), pushes her by using different methods – from praise and insults to physical and mental abuse.

Nina is threatened by a newcomer, Lily (Mila Kunis), who is her main competitor for the leading role in Swan Lake. Nina’s intense desire to get the lead role becomes an obsession with finding more within herself and pushing further than ever before. Thomas Le Roy is essential for pushing Nina over the edge; his often questionable methods aren’t put to trial because of his expertise. This is very common in many artists’ careers, a mentor that frequently goes over the line for the purpose of waking up potential in their mentee. Cassel embodies the mentor so well that it’s arguably one of his best roles to date.

Black Swan
Release Date
December 3, 2010

Runtime
110

Watch on Disney+

1 ‘La Haine’ (1995)

As Vinz

Matthieu Kassovitz was well known as an actor before directing his debut, Métisse, in 1993. Two years later, inspired by real-life police brutality against a 17-year-old African teen who was killed while in police custody, he wrote and directed La Haine, the most influential French movie about racial inequality and police aggression. The opening sequence shows riots against police violence; the movie later turns into a story of three friends with different backgrounds.

Vinz (Vincent Cassel), a young Jewish man, is impulsive and loves to channel Travis Bickle from Scorsese‘s Taxi Driver; Hubert (Hubert Koundé), is a young Afro-French boxer with a calm personality and disposition, who wishes to leave the neighborhood; and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui), is a young Muslim Parisian who tries to hide his anger and fear with jokes. La Haine depicts 24 hours in their lives, and how they behave when they realize one of their friends was killed while in custody.

From anger and fear to confrontation with others and themselves, Vinz, Hubert, and Saïd must find a way to survive or get out. This was one of the first (if not the first) instances of depicting police brutality in France from a realistic – and negative – standpoint. It gave way to showing a more underground and grittier Paris than its previously romanticized versions; it also sparked further protests against police brutality in real-life. La Haine was pivotal for such political and societal matters, but also for its actors. Vincent Cassel might be most remembered for his amusing replication of the Taxi Driver mirror monologue, while Saïd Taghmaoui rose to international stardom after his acting debut in La Haine.

La Haine
Release Date
May 27, 1995

Director
Mathieu Kassovitz

Runtime
98 minutes

Watch on AppleTV

NEXT: 10 Revolutionary French Directors Who Aren’t François Truffaut or Jean-Luc Godard

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