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Twentynine Palms [DVD] 
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Dark, experimental French drama. An independent photographer (David Wissak) is scouting locations in the desert outside Los Angeles for a photo shoot, accompanied by his girlfriend (Yekaterina Golubeva). Around the isolated desert town of Twentynine Palms, the two lovers fight, have sex, watch television in their motel, and generally relax. Little do they know that even in the middle of nowhere they are not safe from danger, and that fear and violence can come from within as well as without.
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There are a number of beautifully composed shots throughout the film. One in particular, where Katia and David, both naked, climb onto a small rounded rock formation. After another passionate love-making session both fall asleep entangled within each other, with their white naked bodies glistening in the sun. The simple harmony between the flowing rock forms and the curvaceous figures of David and Katia really capture the essence of this human connection.
Dumont also uses sound cleverly, often to heighten the passion during many of the sex scenes. For example, there is one scene in which Katia and David make love in a swimming pool. The scene is shot from his perspective, as, like a tiger, he slowly and silently makes his way towards Katia. The sound of the scene, however, comes from Katia who is just gently rocking back and forth in the water with her back turned to David. This play with sound, questions are own perceptions within the scene, and creates an ambiguous curtain with regards to which one of them actually controls the relationship. Is silent and motionless Katia actually controlling David in this scene?
This is certainly one of those love or hate films. However, if you enjoy a film in which you have time to ponder over the questions that Dumont puts forward. Then this is a great film for you.
Twentynine Palms has a narrative and it is somewhat palpable to a mainstream audience...especially one that it is eager to be shocked. Dumont tells the story of Photographer David and his French girlfriend Katia having sex and examining the beautiful landscapes of southwestern United States after leaving Los Angeles. The pacing of the film and the pretty consistent nudity and sexual content allow us to engage the characters on an intimate level and sort of enjoy the peace, or at least silence, they exist in during this road trip (mind you this is not nearly as explicit as people say it is...its just two naked people who don't even look really great naked anyway). They seem disconnected and somewhat isolated throughout. It actually reaches a level of character depth I don't think dialogue can often reach...to me it's kind of the advantage movies have over other mediums. The content during the film up to this point is what makes the film so real and believable and it did this without me really noticing its purpose. Everything is pretty ordinary with these people, but why is Dumont showing us this?
He is setting the stage for what turns out to be a very disruptive tragedy that befalls these two people. The way we are set up is what makes the film so filthy and profoundly dark. You have to really watch these characters the whole time to get the full effect, but I'm not so sure everyone in the audience wants this film to cut that deeply. There is a clear a message here and every scene assists in giving the conclusion deeper meaning.
Dumont has not created an anti-American film necessarily and he definitely doesn't set out to conquer Hollywood. He's simply made a film that tries to simulate tragedy and gives us the rare opportunity to empathize. This film is probably only really worth experiencing for a select few who can appreciate it. The rest of us should probably pass.
Totally unlikeable character as male lead. A miserable film totally detached from reality which I could not wait to end. Enjoyment and interest value for me nil.
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