Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. France, 2004. Ognon Pictures, Arte France Cinema, Conseil Régional de Franche-Comté, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Pusan Film Commission. Screenplay by Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau, based on the novel by Jean-Luc Nancy. Cinematography by Agnes Godard. Produced by Humbert Balsan, Jerome Clement, Michel Reilhac. Music by Stuart Staples. Production Design by Arnaud de Moleron. Costume Design by Judy Shrewsbury. Film Editing by Nelly Quettier. Toronto International Film Festival 2004
Claire Denis once again adapts literature to her spare, haunting style. Michel Subor is excellent as a former army mercenary whose difficult relationship with his estranged son (Gregoire Colin) must be put on hold as he deals with his declining health condition. He needs a new heart, and so leaves his Alpine home and goes to Korea for a black market transplant which, thanks to his already having gone so far, leads him to Tahiti where he spent much of his youth while in the army. There he looks up old acquaintances and goes in search of the loose ends he left behind, though despite the sound of so much soap opera plot, the film is mostly related through bold images and very little dialogue. What is normally potent in Denis’ films, namely her refusal to describe her narrative too explicitly, is often frustrating here, and the story makes leaps in time and place without the connections ever feeling organic. Béatrice Dalle has a wonderful appearance as a member of Subor’s mountain community who looks divine on her dog sled.