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Monday, 6 January 2014

The Enchanted Places

This is a review of Hors Satan (2011)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2013
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)


6 January

This is a review of Hors Satan (2011)

On the IMDb web-site, reviews have been written of Leviathan (I)* (2012) as if the expectations of the writers had been specifically outraged by a film that was meant to be 'about trawling' and they had sat down to a nice study, full of facts and figures, of life and scenes at sea.

No such problems, I suspect, were likely to get in the way of Hors Satan (2011)'s finding the right audience, which would be that of demonstrating the worth of this film to those to whom it might appeal, but without a similarly large budget for trailers :

Just as an opening comment, the comparison is relevant, because the films are - partly as if they are creatures of where they are set** - apt to be both ambiguous, and not to be understood as being 'apart from' what we might normally think about life : neither film explicitly requires us to say how we judge what we see, but, in the case of Hors Satan, we might find ourselves reaching out for a list of similar words to try to describe its world, such as pagan, resurrection, healing, reverence, worship, and The Sun, alongside death, protection, police, and punishment.


It is a shock to realize that the male lead, David Dewaele has already been dead for nearly a year (27 February 2013). When we properly meet Alexandra Lemâtre (Elle) and him, as Le gars (which just means 'the guy' (or lad), we are unclear who they are to each other, although we learn that he looks out for her (and also that she may be abusing his desire to do so ?), and that it is not because of any aversion to sex that he keeps rejecting her suggestions of physical union. They are the nearest thing that ech of them has to any other.

The film has a place, La Côte d'Opale (on which Calais is just 50 miles north of where Dewaele was born and died), but nothing much tells us how long the status quo had existed, and the film rests content with that, by giving us this place that looks onto the sea and, for example, where, although she scorns him, he shows her how actions have averted catastrophe. And, although this is not some Godardian telling of something as unreal, it is on the edges of what we know, to entrance us with its power and / or shock us with its morality.

Treat it as literal or figurative, but the film shows a world where there are other forces, and it is likely to appeal as that of Kosmos (2010) or Postcards from the Zoo (2012) (Festival review)



Postscript

Glancing, a few weeks late, through @PeterBradshaw1's 'The Braddies', there is Dewaele in his choice of best actors in The Guardian...



End-notes :

* Called Leviathan (I) (2012), because it is one of (in this case) two films with that title released in that year.

** If, that is, they themselves do not create (or co-create) their setting.





Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

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