Since The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Romain Duris has been pretty much the hottest name in French cinema. There’s plenty of opportunity for him to do some high intensity scowling in this claustrophobic drama about a family whose secret, its driving force, is depression. His dad (the excellent Guy Marchand) is clearly wrestling with it, his brother (Louis Garrel) has flown off in the other direction and is banging anything female that moves and now Paul (Duris) is in deep trouble too. There’s a bad attack of the narrative cutes at the outset of Christophe Honoré’s latest film, when Garrel turns to the camera and addresses it directly. But give the film a chance, because once it’s stopped playing with the fourth wall and is done with its naked homage to the French New Wave (Honoré was born in 1970 so is too young to have been a part of it), it is a quiet and unusual drama proceeding by oblique strategies and just the odd playful nod to Godard and the films of early 1960s Paris. It’s also, at times, quite spellbindingly odd.
© Steve Morrissey 2007