PROFILE DRAMA WELCOME (15) 104min ●●●●●
Writer and director Philippe Lioret’s film expounds on the difficulties of immigrants and casual racism in modern day Calais. Seventeen-year- old Bilal (Firat Ayverdi) is looking to make it to London. He has already walked thousands of miles to reach the French port from Iraq. Now, after a failed attempt to go by lorry, he hopes to swim the channel. Vincent Lindon plays former Olympic swimmer turned reluctant swimming coach Simon, and the two bond as Simon looks for distraction as his wife files divorce proceedings and Bilal dreams of making it across the channel to see his loved one and pursue a football career. While in the initial stages of the
training, Simon is a neutral figure who refuses to get involved while his soon to be ex-wife runs a soup kitchen for the refugees, over the course of the film he gets a full character arc as he distances himself from the prejudices that seem the local norm, whether cop or security guard, neighbour or coastguard. The big chinned, craggy faced Lindon is as solid a presence as ever, and it is the intensity and detail he brings to his growing friendship with Bilal that really makes the film work. Undeniably schematic, Loiret’s engrossing and warm drama manages to transcend its conservative but competent execution. (Tony McKibbin) ■ GFT, Glasgow and Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 6 Nov. See profile, index.
DOCUMENTARY HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT’S INFERNO (15) 100min ●●●●●
Cinema history is littered with the foetus corpses of abandoned projects and unrealised masterworks from Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis to Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, John Waters’ The Confederacy of Dunces and (arguably most tragic of all) Michael Powell’s The Tempest, but it’s rare that the ruins are accessible. But then French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot, most often noted as ‘the French Hitchcock’, was a rare beast, one whose rampant egomania led him to believe his failures were as noble as his successes – of which there were many (Les Diaboliques, The Wages of Fear, Le Corbeau).
In 1964, Clouzot attempted to make the link between his very traditional type of filmmaking with the surreal and cubist art movements (his previous film had been a documentary about Picasso) and the burgeoning French New Wave with its cheeky laissez faire ingénues Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut.
The film, a romantic thriller of obsessive jealousy, was to be called L’Enfer (Hell) and the story of its pre-production and stillborn demise is a fascinating one. Archivist/directors Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea reassemble the remaining footage to work out what the crazed insomniac Clouzot was up to. Surviving crewmembers fill in the gaps and by the end you wish L’Enfer had not imploded but exploded across the mid 1960s European film scene. (Paul Dale) ■ GFT, Glasgow from Sat 14–Mon 16 Nov and Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 27- Mon 30 Nov. See preview, page 44.
DRAMA/ROMANCE BRIGHT STAR (PG) 118min ●●●●●
The thin line between pretentiousness and romantic poetry is not very well trodden in Jane Campion’s luscious looking fictionalised account of poet John Keats’ love affair with Fanny Brawne. The movie takes its title from one of the poems that Keats wrote to Fanny in one of the many love letters he sent her during their three year romance just before his early death, aged just 25. Campion shows a deference to the poet’s work by including snippets of his writing whenever possible.The problem that the New Zealand director cannot overcome is that there is a lack of electricity between Ben Whishaw (Perfume, Brideshead Revisited) and Abbie Cornish (Somersault, Candy) in the lead roles. Cornish is miscast as the literal girl-next-door who inspires but doesn’t quite
get her neighbour’s work. Keats’ mentor Charles Brown (Paul Schneider) doesn’t think it’s a good match either and tries to break them up. Bright Star is an unusually bland and conventional entry from a director whose previous films, among them Holy Smoke! and The Piano, are marked by an inherent vibrancy and humanity. The beautiful imagery and words cannot hide the lack of substance, and even the feminist agenda set up by Fanny being a fashion designer, a working woman (gasp!), is undone when she goes weak at the knees at the sight of Keats. If you want to see a more original romance in poetic prose, revisit Sally Potter’s overlooked 2004 foray into the iambic pentameter Yes. (Kaleem Aftab) ■ General release from Fri 6 Nov.
DYLAN DUFFUS Background For his first acting gig, Birmingham barber Duffus started his career at the top, playing the central role in Penny Woolcock’s hip hop musical drama about gang-life in the Handsworth area. Despite a lack of formal training, Duffus managed to parlay his initial role as a script consultant into becoming second assistant director, and then playing the role of Flash, a drug-dealer who faces a career meltdown over 24 hours on his local estate.
On playing the lead in his first movie? ‘I grew up in the inner city, and Penny had initially shown me the script because she thought it was important to get the details of the slang used just right. I have to admit that I do like being in front of the camera, and once I’d stood in as Flash for some of the auditions, I realised I was talking myself into the role. Penny was really clever the way she brought me into it gradually.’ On patronising the urban audience 1 Day doesn’t glamourise the gangster lifestyle, the truth is that it’s not a game, if you don’t get smart, you’ll end up dead or in jail. If you carry a gun, chances are you’ll end up in two minutes of madness, and that’s the clear message of the film. So we had no problems shooting the film on location, everyone in the communities there was right behind us and what we were doing.’
Interesting fact Duffus is aiming to make sure his career is no flash in the pan. He wants to further his sideline musical career by producing a mix album, and he’s also in the process of starting his own record label. ‘The people whose careers I admire are people like Master P, Jay-Z, P Diddy, rappers who take control and make their career their business. And yes, I want to direct too, making 1 Day really gave me a taste for it.’ (Eddie Harrison) ■ 1 Day is on selected release from Fri 6 Nov. See review, page 47.
46 THE LIST 5–19 Nov 2009