Entries tagged with “Emmanuelle Seigner”.


The US and NATO war in Afghanistan did not generate yet too many movies. Certainly, not many good movies. A few war and B-series films dealt with the conflict in a  one-sided manner, focusing on the action, demonizing or at best not dealing with the other side but in a very schematic and generally negative manner. Very few dealt with the dilemmas and traumas of the warriors, or of the families back home. The other side was again absent, a far menace at best. Essential Killing – an European co-production directed by Polish director with a couple of well known French actors in the lead roles comes from a very different perspective. So different that it falls in the other extreme, and the result is in my opinion a failure.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1561768/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1561768/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

 

Let me start with the good things about this film. It’s cinematography is very expressive and fits quite well the subject and the action. A Taliban prisoner is captured by the American or NATO forces after killing three soldiers. He is interrogated with brutality, and then taken aboard the plane to another country, supposed European, certainly with harsh winters and very different from the hot desert he dreams to while fighting for his life. The frozen forests, the orange and white uniforms, the silhouettes of the soldiers, the dogs and the wolves, all fit well. One can wonder what actors like and do in such a film, but they are here and they do well their job. If ‘Essential Killing’ was only a survival story, it would have worked, although some details are not completely clear (how does exactly the running prisoner escape the wolves? we just see him walking free after a scene in which he seemed to be turn into pieces by a hoard of about six beasts).

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The problem is that ‘Essential Killing’ tries to be more than a survival story in in what it selects to show and what it selects not to show. Yes, the brutal methods of interrogation are repulsive, and transporting prisoners in other countries without a judgment may be against the international laws. Yes, even the harsher enemies are human and they have their dreams and they fight for their lives. Human solidarity also works beyond language or cultural barriers. This is fine as well. However the one sided view of the conflict in which the bad guys are ‘humanized’ to the edge of idealization (dreaming to the beautiful woman covered by the celestial blue burka, come on!) and the good guys are demonized (did not the three soldiers killed in the opening scene have their dreams too?) can work only for people who landed from another planet or are truly convinced that the Taliban are the good guys and the ones fighting them are the opposite. ‘Essential Killing’ may tell some kind of a partial truth, but partial truths are often indistinguishable from lies.

 

 

Dans la maison (In the House) directed by Francois Ozon is one of the the most surprising films i have seen lately. Adaptation of a play, the screen is so smart that my major question is how is it that Woody Allen did not write it first? or maybe he wrote it under disguise?

 

source www.impawards.com

source www.impawards.com

 

It is really such an Allen-esque story, which mingles real life and imagination, the writer as a creator of life, and life as a creator of literature.  It even has a thread about relations of adults and underage and even if it loses a little bit of steam by the end, talking so much about a good ending for the story that it forgets to create a real good and non-conventional one, it is still one of the smartest and most original scripts I have watched lately brought in screen. The hero is a professor of literature Germain (Fabrice Luchini), smart enough to abhor the re-introduction of uniforms in high school, whose literary ambitions were not fulfilled and who finds a goal (and a change in the routine) in pygmalionizing one of his pupils Claude (Ernst Umhauer) in the ways of literature. As it happens Clude’s subjects are his friend and colleague Rapha (Bastien Ughetto), his house which is the middle class dream for a poor kid from the peripheries, and his family or especially his mother (Emmanuelle Seigner) who becomes the object of his teenage dreams and guilty desires. As the story develops, the house becomes the stage of the action, reality inspires fiction at first just to make room for literary fiction becoming reality, the intervention of the teacher becomes much more than correction of grammar or style, it starts to be correction of destinies. All in a fluent and well paced style for most of the time.

 

(video source abcscope)

 

I liked the acting of Fabrice Luchini, well supported by other fine actors as the two charming Kristin Scott Thomas (as his wife, co-reader of Rapha’s essays and supporting character playing eventually a surprising role in the story) and Emmanuelle Seigner. All of them act solidly, their problems are credible, and we can feel the atmosphere and the torments of the middle class in the French province. The two teenager roles are played with the natural touch and expected freshness by Ernst Umhauer and Bastien Ughetto (the latest is very promising, may he have luck in getting distributed in roles that fit his talent and his face!). Overall it’s a smart and funny movie, worth seeing for many reasons.