Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: L’Image Manquante
Cambodia/France, 2013. Catherine Dussart Productions, Arte France, Bophana Production, Région Ile-de-France, Centre National du Cinéma et de L’image Animée, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Procirep, Angoa-Agicoa. Screenplay by Rithy Panh, commentary by Christophe Bataille. Cinematography by Prum Mesa. Produced by Catherine Dussart. Music by Marc Marder. Production Design by Rithy Panh. Film Editing by Rithy Panh, Marie-Christine Rougerie. Academy Awards 2013. Online Film Critics Awards 2014. Toronto International Film Festival 2013.
Rithy Panh adapts his own memoir about surviving the Khmer Rouge for a moving and powerful film. File footage of battle and hardship are interspersed with dramatic recreations of Panh’s experiences using wooden figurines to represent the characters in his narrative; it sounds twee but there is a haunting quality to it that makes the story hit deeper than it would if it were done with actors speaking scripted dialogue. The crime of a young boy’s loving family life being destroyed by inhuman cruelty is that much more powerfully expressed by the simplicity of the puppets, while the narration has you eventually reading emotion and expression into the painted faces.