Wednesday 29 June 2011

Three Films I Could Do No Justice

This was actually the first film by Claire Denis I ever saw, and I remember the feeling I had afterwards. It was a revelation, at about sixteen, when the least conventional film that had ever crossed my past was still The Ice Storm. The acting from the two leads, Grégroire Colin and Agnes Houri, is incredible - they play siblings with a complicated, but never fully explained background - and the way Agnès Godard's cinematography portrays intimacy and the inner life of the characters is simply astonishing. Colin plays a young man who has built a life living in his mother's old house, driving a pizza van, Houri his troubled sister, a young woman who escapes from a boarding school to have an abortion, only to find out that it is too late. Colin's character is driven by sexual fantasies for the owner of a local bakery but realizes that reality never quite lives up to fantasy, and when his sister decides to give up the child, he takes desperate measures to keep the one thing promising to give his life meaning. 

Nénette et Boni (1996), directed by Claire Denis, starring Grégroire Colin, Agnes Houri, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Vincent Gallo.

Not a conventional vampire movie by any means, Trouble Every Day, not unlike Abel Ferrara's The Addiction and Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of Låt den rätte komma in portrays how a dangerous sexual desire influences the relationships of its main characters. Two couples deals differently with a virus that turns those afflicted into cannibals during sex - Vincent Gallo's Shane desperately suppresses his urges so as not to endanger his lovely fiancé (Tricia Vessey), with whom he shares an intimate and caring relationship, while Béatrice Dalle's Coré escapes the prison her loving husband (Alex Descas) builds for her in order to keep her from feeding nightly, relying on him to clean up after her. This is a gory movie, but Trouble Every Day features surprisingly tender, intimate scenes between the lovers, even though the ultimate catastrophe seems inevitable. The central scene of the movie features a twisted re-telling of a fairy tale: prince tries to free princess from her prison cell, only to be, quite literally, devoured. 

Trouble Every Day (2001), directed by Claire Denis, starring Vincent Gallo, Béatrice Dalle, Tricia Vessey, Alex Descas, Florence Loiret Caille.

Is it a happy ending? 
I don’t know. 
Make something up. 

The first time I ever saw Lucía Puenzo's follow-up to the highly recommended XXY, I gave up on it about halfway through - without subtitles, it was hard to make sense of the non-linear narrative, and I was starting to have the suspicion that this was a tale of betrayal, which I didn't really want to see. Turns out, it's not. In fact, this is a love story - and the occasionally unrealistic story (the movie has a final showdown, including a gunfight) don't take anything away from the beautiful honesty of the central relationship, and the incredible acting from both Inés Efron and Mariela Vitale. Efron's Lala is the daughter of an Argentinean judge, emanating the same kind of essential loneliness and feeling of alienation Julia Hummer's Nina does in Gespenster, while Vitale's portrayal of a Paraguayan servant girl with a terrible past possesses an unlikely vividness and liveliness. Both girls seek to break free together and overcome the inherent mistrust of mentally scarred individuals and outside obstacles. Surprisingly beautiful and engaging. 

El niño pez (2009), directed by Lucía Puenzo, starring Inés Efron, Mariela Vitale, Pep Munné, Diego Velázquez, Carlos Bardem, Arnaldo André, Julián Doregger.

No comments: