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Figures In A Landscape,
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This review is from: Hors Satan [DVD] (DVD)
Dumont makes sound movies. That is not to say that they are worthy but that they are infused with sound, a sound-scape that forms the architectural bones of his fleshy visuals. Here we hear breathing; life is manifest in this most intimate detail, the movement of air from within and without. The French title 'Hors Satan' is translated on screen into English as 'Outside Satan'! How about 'Without Satan' or 'Satan Without', either of these might be preferable?
Immersed immediately in the, now familiar (?) world of Dumont’s northern France landscape the first five minutes of 'Hors Satan' draws us into milieu of post industrial peasant life, taciturn, at once alienated and yet connected to the rural world, a world not of ordered pasture and hedgerow but rather of rusted corrugated iron sheets and furrowed brows. The leaden skies weigh heavily on the land stretched across the screen as figures shift both into the depth of the frame and across its geometrical surface. There is a wonderful moment 50 minutes into the film when the young woman walks toward the vanishing point of the screen, her vertical figure passing through the three horizontals of sand, sea and sky. Dumont is as deft at utilizing this landscape form as Godard is albeit to different effect.
In this, his sixth feature, Dumont allows us to observe, his usual narrative position, the story of an ‘outsider’ befriended by an other, a couple estranged, made strange by the circumstances of intimated child abuse and silent compromise. The young woman (Alexandre Lamaire), with trumpet player lips and failed goth hair looks through weak eyes at a world awry. The man (David Dewaele) seemingly unperturbed by his lot save for his, literally, falling to his knees in a kind of pantheistic prayer when confronted with the sight of the world, interacts with this place by a kind of piercing will. The film tells a story of sorts, a story of redemption, a story of resurrection but it also does so much more. Here we have a silent movie made up of sound, an action movie entirely passive, an intimate movie that keeps its distance. Dumont has something to offer the film going crowd, spectacle, spectacle as contemplation. For in this cinema we see not only what the characters see we see something more, something we don’t see.