Sunday, October 28, 2012
A magnificent love story! Yes film is all about love. Love, Audiard style of course. Not really what I imagined as was expecting a female-centered story and is not. In a way Audiard again tells a male-centered story but this time a female character goes tête-à-tête with the male character and together they dance a magnificent pas de deux. But you have no idea how spectacular Audiard tells his love story that in hands of a different director easily could have become a sentimental melodrama of the worst kind.
Story tells about two different people, opposites, Stéphanie (Marion Cotillard) the Orca whale trainer that has her "controlled" world turn upside down after a whale disobeys her "controlling" orders, and Ali (Matthias Scoenaerts) the man that has nothing but his son and a brutal force. The beauty and the brute, the perfect match. But nothing is easy for both and Audiard brilliantly show us through several metaphors and most of all with the most impressive cinematography where what you see is more important than what you hear, how they end up helping each other in the most non-sentimental, crude and direct way. All this while exploring our contemporary world, the huge differences between those that have and have not, and proposing that perhaps nowadays all we have left is no more than ourselves, our feelings, our emotions or -if you wish- love. Amazing.
Had no clear idea how to explain what movie is about as whatever I wrote sounded ridiculous and maybe the previous paragraph still suggests a story that can be considered as silly, risible, unbelievable; but let me assure that film and story are not any of the later words. First film is so well crafted that seems impossible to imagine the above story told the way Audiard tells it, but his master approach is extraordinary. Just as an example let me share that the scenes where Stéphanie has the "accident" are an impressive expressionist collage where you see nothing of the "accident" and you see all, inside your head. Second, story is told in a very raw, realistic way, especially when telling about Ali, but also when telling about Stéphanie as her emotions are raw and realistic too. Film is truly visceral.
I was very curious about the special effects and maybe in the beginning was approaching the scenes where Cotillard has no legs too brainy but film -and special effects- are so good that soon, very soon, absolutely forgot about the special effects as became more concern with feeling whatever emotions the scenes provoked. Fantastic and in my opinion, extraordinary use of special effects that I wish many emulate, as not often these kind of effects are used to generate emotions.
Performances have the excellence that awards reward. Marion Cottillard's character is full of emotions and she gives a perfect performance, similar to the one that gave her an Oscar. Matthias Schoenaerts' performance is so good that now I'm willing to see Rundskop (Bullhead), a film I've been avoiding to see as I imagine with too much violence, but now after seeing how good he is -even in the most raw violence- will see it. No doubt that Jacques Audiard masterful direction makes their extraordinary performances possible as well as gives us a raw expressionism in his film images.
I am a huge Audiard and Marion Cotillard follower that with this film got my expectations (see Cannes preview) surpassed as never imagined that a love story (first surprise) could be told like is told here (second surprise) with so much emotions and the raw violence that characterizes Audiard. Still, have to remind you readers that this is a very French movie in form and style; where the voyage is more relevant than the destination. So I hope some of you will enjoy this fantastic voyage into love.
No doubt that film could be for general adult audiences as believe that film story could appeal them; but wonder if film could motivate them to see beyond the evident, to peel the layers, to see more with emotions than plain sight. Maybe.
Last but not least film premiered to great reviews at 2012 Cannes and just a few days ago collected the top award at BFI London Film Festival, in between the two events and while travelling the fest circuit collected many more honors. Truly regret that France did not send film to Oscar, but let's hope that Cotillard gets some more Oscar love.
Watch trailer @MOC