I was surprised how much I enjoyed this supernatural crime thriller, given that ghost stories are not usually my thing. The unearthly presence of the murder victim at first barely noticeable grows steadily thoughout the film, gradually taking lonely heroine Charlotte (played very adeptly by Emilie Dequenne) closer to the brink of madness.
Not a classic horror by any means, this story is played with chilling realism, as the daughter's determination to solve the mystery of her mother's death becomes obsession.
As with any good crime thriller, just about any of the characters could have `done it' (except in this case, the police, although there may be something not quite right about them, too). The tension spirals up, ever tighter, as the ghost becomes more active and the number of suspects multiplies.
A very effective drama, well acted and ably directed, all the better for a lack of sophistication or special effects. A gripping yarn!
Alanté Kavaité's Ecoute le Temps is an interesting idea (albeit one not a million miles from White Noise) that never develops into a particularly interesting film. Following the murder of her fortune telling mother, Émilie Dequenne's sound recordist travels to the decaying cottage where she was killed and - luckily having brought her sound equipment with her - after a few uninvolving and underdeveloped encounters with the locals, not only finds her mother's voice on recordings of the creaking house but discovers that by placing the microphone in different parts of the house she can eavesdrop on different parts of her past. As she struggles to build a literal timeline of the recordings so she can isolate the moment of the killing, the film should start to build up some momentum and tension, but the film remains for the most part stuck in its position as disinterested observer, the secrets she gradually uncovers - like the brief glimpses of her troubled relationship with her mother or the local disputes between organic farmers and the local chemical fertilizer magnate - rather underwhelming and underdeveloped, emotionally and viscerally.
While it does capture the cold oppressiveness of many rural communities, unfortunately for a film that revolves around sound, the film doesn't trust sound's ability to create atmosphere, never using it particularly interestingly in an unadventurous sound mix and often flattening it altogether with musique concrete scoring. Nor is there any mystery in the recordings, which are dutifully conveyed largely as flashbacks: it's almost as if Coppola decided The Conversation would be so much better if you could understand every word from the start. There's no ambiguity in its soundscape, no questioning of the senses from its heroine - what you hear and see is what you get. As a result, you have a leading character whose job is recording wildtrack sound for atmosphere in a film that has a tough time drawing much atmosphere from its premise, let alone thrilling or chilling in the process, and one where you can't help feeling that for once a remake could actually improve upon significantly.
Some early copies were in the wrong ratio, but were replaced by copies in the original 2.35:1 widescreen transfers with English subtitles. Extras are limited to trailer and a brief interview with director and star.
Moody, intriguing whodunnit that almost doesn't feel like a whodunnit cuz there's hardly any questioning of suspects. Instead, the backstory is revealed thru a scifi device -- the daughter of the murdered woman is a sound engineer who happens to plug in her equipment at the cottage her mother was murdered in -- and hears sounds and voices from the past. Naturally, it leads to the killer. Red herrings misled me and I was fooled. And everything comes together nicely at the end.
I suppose the timetraveling sounds were too readily accepted. And I would think it would be difficult to figure out so clearly what was going on based just on sounds. If you're not the suggestible type, you might dwell on these and not be able to lose yourself in the story the way I did.
For me, there's much that shines in this gloomy film. Structure. Dialog. Acting, altho I was unfamiliar with all the actors. Visuals. Pacing. If there was background music, I didn't notice (ie, it didn't get in the way).
There were some interesting ideas in this (mapping the voices with the string, for example) and the lead actress was very impressive but the fact that the budget for the film was proabably less than the value of a clapped out Renault 4 detracts from the input. As a debut, I suppose it isn't too bad but it still looks like it was made by a film student. Worth a punt for a few quid but don't expect much!