From France, this artful drama is designed to stir controversy among viewers, approaching taboo issues in a way that can't help but raise the hackles. But by doing this, the film forces people to think about these things in new ways, challenging accepted wisdom and even the letter of the law. It's a bracingly fresh approach to filmmaking for writer-director-producer Agnes Trouble, who's far better known as the designer agnes b.
At the centre is 11-year-old Celine (Lou-Lelia Demerliac), who ends up caring for her younger siblings because their mother (Sylvie Testud) is working extra shifts and their father (Jacques Bonaffe) just sits around the house uselessly, moaning about the fact that he's unemployed. But he also has some very dark urges, inviting Celine upstairs for special time that's all too clearly horrific sexual abuse. So it's no surprise that Celine begs to go on a school camping trip, then quietly runs off when no one's watching. She stows away in the cab of friendly Scottish truck driver Peter (Douglas Gordon), who instantly understands everything that's happened to her. So he decides to help her escape.
The film is shot and edited with a lot of swirly and gimmicky stylistic touches that often obscure the precise nature of a scene, capturing Celine's perspective on events while forcing the audience to look closer. This also makes the film feel almost like a caper, as Celine goes on this apparently exciting adventure with a stranger who, for the first time in her life, lets her play as the happy little girl that she should be. Meanwhile, as viewers, we have constant chills down the spine, understanding various ramifications of what's happening and wondering why Peter never calls the authorities. What we know also clouds the scenes of Celine's parents desperately searching for their missing daughter.
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Jo (Diop) lives with her widowed train-driver dad Lionel (Descas) in a Paris flat. Also in the building are Lionel's ex Gabrielle (Dogue) and Noe (Colin), a neighbour Jo has her eye on. Together, they're a sort of family, watching out for each other even as circumstances change around them. When a friend (Toussaint) retires, Lionel becomes terrified of his own old age, which opens him up to potential romance with a local cafe owner (Ado). And besides Noe, Jo is also drawn to a cute shop clerk (Folly).
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You want this movie to be a piece about the loneliness of growing old? Sure, it can be that. You want it to be about redeeming yourself for a bad life before you die? It can be that too. It can even be a psychological mystery about spies, the black market for human organs, and illegitimate children. It's barely any of these things, but if you try real hard you can convince yourself that Denis has a point somewhere in this.
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Vincent Gallo (Buffalo '66) and Tricia Vessey (Town & Country) portray American newlyweds named Shane and June Brown, spending their honeymoon in romantic Paris. A reluctant Shane appears fearful about consummating his marriage with an eager June, causing him to seek refuge in a nearby Parisian medical clinic where he explores his unexplainably weird sexual urges. And there's also this tendency for him to want to devour his spouse during sex. Yes, as in literally eating his loving partner's flesh right down to her human bone. Hence, Shane has to resort to masturbation in order to overcome the desire to chew on his new bride as if she were a juicy pork chop. Bottom line: If Shane doesn't get the help he needs to control his bizarre behavior, he will inevitably end up killing his woman.
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