on 3 May 2014
Intrigued by the premise of heat, murder and familial discord, I decided to have a go at watching this on pay for view. The result is a mixed bag, imminently watchable, just not satisfying, though it does have some admirable qualities.
First, the highlights. The cinematography, shot on a Red One, is well lit and catches the hazy ambience of the Dordogne in a rich palette and the girlfriend of the Americano is excellent as a dreamy and slightly fey french waif.
The direction is nicely done on the whole, though fairly straight forward. He was obviously going for a deliberate art-house, european style, with no flashiness, just simple, composed shots, but there is some jarring editing at times that feels off and I spotted some glaring continuity errors that was amateurish to say the least. He should have been bolder with his style and let things play out more. There wasn't enough depth between shots, often feeling flat and uninspired.
I think the main problem though lies with the script and the characterisation. I never felt like we knew or cared enough for these people. The married couple just weren't that convincing, at times verging on the banal. I get that they were going through a rough patch and there certainly was a distance between them, but I didn't believe in their plight. It felt false.
The American wasn't extreme enough either. He should have been less gruff and more of a charming snake, ready to corrupt the fragile wife. The girlfriend just turned into a lost little girl at the end, and the actress promised so much more hidden depth. She was the only one that was mysterious and intriguing. We needed evil to contrast with the married couple's innocence.
The original music is fairly taunt and momentous, but the tension was mounted in the very first opening sequence, and I think that was a mistake. It revealed it's cards too early, building suspense that seemed to take forever to come and when it finally did, it was limp and unconvincing. There was also an overabundance of cutaways. I can only think that the director needed to do that in order to make his story work, though it feels forced and unnecessary, however beautiful the images are.
That sounds like I'm being harsh, and I probably am. There is definitely talent here. Having checked the director out on IMDB, I saw that this is his first feature film, obviously shot on a low budget, so I guess most first time directors are learning what works and what doesn't and I commend anyone who sits down to write something, then actually go off to make it as well. So, check it out and be entertained, and let's hope he gets to make another one in the future and be more forceful with his vision.
on 3 August 2014
This feels like a mid term film student's first attempt at a full length film. It is low budget, but that should not kill off the characters having depth or the film as a whole having energy. It could be that the lack of spark, energy or interest mirrored the tortuous ending of the married couple's relationship, but I just found it dragged on. The end was a bit of a surprise but by that point I didn't care what happened to any of the characters, I was just looking forward to the credits coming up.