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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French actor-filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika) takes on a major event in his nation's colonial history with this true action-adventure set on the lush South Pacific island of New Caledonia. It's a muscular, harrowing military thriller that has echoes of Zero Dark Thirty in its urgent story's drive to a big action climax. And it was made a year earlier.
The events take place in 1988, as politicians in France are preparing for general elections when an uprising breaks out in New Caledonia and several people are taken hostage by Kanak islanders. So French special forces captain Philippe (Kassovitz) assembles a crack team to diffuse the situation. Their goal is to facilitate talks to find a peaceful solution, but the local French politician (Martin) and military bosses are keen on a much more aggressive approach to crush any percieved rebellion. This is especially frustrating to Philippe after he meets the Kanak leader (Lapacas) and discovers that they also want peace, and that the whole situation is the result of panic and inexperience.
As the military and government pushes violence over peace, the story becomes increasingly intense. The political gamesmanship is shocking, as candidates falsely label the Kanaks as "savages" to get votes while arrogant leaders make snap decisions thousands of miles away in Paris. So the film begins to feel like a real attempt to right France's colonial wrongs, and it's infused with the righteous anger of centuries of mistreatment of indigenous peoples. It even opens with the caption, "The truth hurts, but lies kill".
Continue reading: Rebellion [L'Ordre et la Morale] Review
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