Monday, September 14, 2009
I was a little afraid to watch the 2009 Cannes Grand Prix winner as according to the trailer and some of what I read before watching, I knew this movie was about men in prison and had to be violent. If you’re like me, then honestly need not to fear anything as this is a truly excellent film that will engage you since the very beginning even when I have to admit that the film starts with hard-to-watch violence.
The film starts as a regular-looking film about a young man coming into prison and the often seen “welcome” into the violence that a newcomer is subjected to. What makes this film different and highly watchable is the directing style by Jacques Audiard, extraordinary camera takes/moves and great performances; and I’m just talking about the first half hour (or so) of the film that perhaps has (for me) the hardest to watch violence.
As the story evolves the prison starts to look like a microcosm of tensions and conflicts within wider French society where a heterogeneous conglomerate fights for power and survival. Here is when you start to really notice the lead character Malik El Djebena, played by newcomer Tahar Rahim with an extraordinary and remarkable performance, and when the film becomes a compulsively/mesmerizing thriller French style, of course!
If the story, which according to Audiard deals about the creation of a “hero”, is highly interesting and attention grabber was not enough, the cinematography, camera angles, slow pace to allow extremely good character development, excellent performances with great casting ,and a intriguing directing style make this film absolutely remarkable and unforgettable. There are some scenes that totally recall (or even duplicate) the camera style seen in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly when shows what the character is seeing.
After watching the film I had to explain to someone that does not like French cinema what the movie is all about and why I like it so much. Spontaneously I asked: Did you like The Godfather? If you did then you will like this great film. This movie tells a similar (not the same) story but done with less action/violence and more with awfully strong emotions that will make you feel absolutely everything while watching extraordinary images in the screen. A true cinema masterpiece and a very complete cinematic experience that will entertain you (yes, is very entertaining), intensely feel every emotion and for your eyes and ears delight, enjoy great images with complementary silences or sounds that absolutely enhance the scenes. Plus there is some magic expressed as your inner self fears and guilt’s.
So what’s the story all about? The birth, the education and the unusual rise of a mob lord.
This film has to be the French submission to the Oscar’s race, as in my opinion has everything the Academy likes with a strong touch that totally identifies and distinguishes French cinema.
I highly recommend this unusually entertaining art style French masterpiece to everyone that likes or not French cinema and any film with the Art word attached to.
I love this film and was most impressed by the sweet (yes, sweet!) happy ending that clearly states what this film is all about: human emotions! The film is long with two hours and half, but when was over I wanted MORE. I really hope they do a second installment, but at the same time I know that they probably won’t as what follows might not be easy to portrait in the screen with so much beauty.
Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion
PS The few 2009 Cannes films I have seen are so EXTRAORDINARY that now I’m (more) REALLY looking forward to see the Palm d’Or winner that hopefully has to be as good if not better.