Luc Besson gives us his post apocalyptic vision of a world where everything has broken down, sand has encroached, buildings are covered, and what remains of the standing buildings are empty shells. Amongst this wasteland are sparse groups of people, some in small, uneasy groups, others on their own. They all have one thing in common, they're trying to survive.
These people no longer know anymore how to communicate with one another. No language is used. Words, language and speech are a forgotten art. People communicate by gutteral grunting, pointing or more regularly, fighting. In our modern world where our language has been decimated into new, trendy speak and text type abbreviation, Besson's craft is chilling, as his views are equally relevant today as they were in 1983. Is this where we are heading? People seem less able to get on with each other too nowadays, also crossreferenced in the film, as nearly everytime 'The Man' bumps into someone, it starts a fight.
We have the main character, simply known as 'The Man'. He spends his days passing time on his own. He's building a flying machine to try and take him further across land in search of a female companion. For this, he needs to get parts, which brings him into contact with other groups of people, from whom he steals parts. This ends in a chase naturally.
'The Man' gets away but soon comes into contact with the new focal point of the film, a watcher. A great, unhinged performance by Jean Reno, he will become 'The Man's' greatest enemy.
Battered and bruised, 'The Man' stumbles into a disused medical centre, into the life of another man, who also carries on a lonely existence and paints to pass the time. This sets the scene for the ultimate cat and mouse as Reno taunts and chases the two, somehow trying to find a way into the locked medical centre.
But while this storyline goes on, there is also another one. A more touching one, as the man in the medical centre helps our protagonist to recover and in a great scene, the only two words in the film are spoken as they both try to recapture the lost art of speech. It's part of the appeal of this film that you're hooked right from start to finish, despite the fact that there is really no dialogue or speech in it! We also learn that the older man in the centre has a lodger in one of the cells. We know little of her and see precious little until the end, and until then it is left to your imagination as to why she is there.
Shot in black and white, with a typically off the wall but appealing French soundtrack, this really is a great film. If you like films such as 'Assault On Precint 13', 'Dog Soldiers' or 'Rio Bravo', or even anything along the lines of a tense thriller where a cat and mouse game of hide and seek is going on, then this could be right up your street.