Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
France/Germany/Belgium, 2016. Rectangle Productions, Wild Bunch, Pandora Filmproduktion, Arte France Cinema, WDR / Arte, Scope Pictures, My New Picture, Canal+, Cine+, ARTE, Eurimages, Centre National du Cinema et de L’Image Animee, Filmforderungsanstalt, La Région Île-de-France, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, SofiTVCiné 3, Cinémage 10, Cofinova 12, Palatine Étoile 13, Cinéventure, Cofinova 9, Cinémage 7 Développement. Screenplay by Bertrand Bonello. Cinematography by Leo Hinstin. Produced by Alice Girard, Edouard Weil. Music by Bertrand Bonello. Production Design by Katia Wyszkop. Costume Design by Sonia Philouze. Film Editing by Fabrice Rouaud. Online Film Critics Awards 2016. Online Film Critics Awards 2017. Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
We watch a number of young people independently moving through the city of Paris throughout this film’s smooth, lengthy opening sequence, some of them riding public transportation, one checking into a hotel, and it isn’t until we have spent a good amount of time with them that we learn what they are up to. A few conversations about politics and policies give us a vague idea that we are dealing with anarchists who have plans to bomb the city, which eventually transpires in a series of chilling explosions at various landmarks; the members of this group then enter a shopping centre after closing hours and spend the night hiding in there. They enjoy the merchandise that they have access to, they allow a homeless man and his partner to shelter and eat in there, there are romances to be dealt with and a few expressions of ego before the inevitable catches up with them and the law comes to call. Bruno Bonello’s exploration of the frustrations of youth that lead to bad behaviour is commendable for how little it tries to manipulate the viewer, there’s never a sense that our sympathy is being forced in one direction or another, but his approach is so unobtrusive that the characters are never more than images on a screen, none of them enter your imagination as anything more than figures carrying out actions. It’s a beautifully shot movie about very a dark situation that features more than a few fascinating set pieces that are expertly compiled, but with so little personality involved the more memorable aspects of its plot are never particularly interesting. The film’s release was somewhat dampened by the real life bombing of Paris that occurred just months before it was due to come out, resulting in its losing a place at the Cannes film festival and being released to some controversy from critics and audiences, but truth be told there’s not much to get worked up about here.