Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
MyFFF ’15: A Place on Earth
and battling depression, photographer Antoine Dumas can only deal with the
world through the lens of his camera—and even then he has a rough time of it.
Unfortunately, he is not the most damaged character in Fabienne Godet’s A Place on Earth (trailer here), which screens
online as part of the 2015 My French Film Festival starting tomorrow.
caused the promising Dumas to nosedive personally and professionally, but he is
not talking about it. He has very little human interaction except for Matéo, the
androgynous son of a single-mother neighbor, who apparently works twenty-three
hours a day, eight days a week as a scullery maid in Versailles, or something
like that. Whatever, she is not around much, but mopey Dumas is.
Morin, Dumas’s neighbor across the courtyard also spends a lot of time in her
flat, which is handy since Dumas has something of an obsession going for her,
triggered by her intense renditions of Chopin. One night he spies her flirting
with the edge of the roof, where she will indeed take the suicidal plunge. “Fortunately,”
Dumas notifies the paramedics in time to save her, but Morin is not exactly
brimming with gratitude. Nevertheless, a strange ambiguous romance starts to
blossom between them during her rehabilitation process.
two wounded souls finally find love together? Hell no, they can’t. The only
question is just where will their relationship run off the rails and how messy
will the train wreck be? At least Godet is realistic about the crushing weight
of all their psychological baggage. However, she constantly changes the film’s
emotional tone on a dime, veering from plucky rom-com to Lifetime movie melodrama
to art house existential angst and back again with little transitional warning.
one of the best in the business, Benoît Poelvoorde manages to keep up with each
mood shift rather well. He can clearly do world-weariness like a champ, but he
also nicely suggests Dumas’s more complicated repressed feelings. Greek actress
Ariane Labed is reasonably engaging as the quietly unstable Morin, as well. On
the other hand, everything involving Matéo the moppet and Morin’s
heroin-addicted friend Margot should have been more thoroughly work-shopped
prior to production, because they just clunk on-screen.
photography of Michael Ackerman, doubling for Dumas’s work, is arguably the
real star of the film, giving Place greater
weight and resonance than it would otherwise have. Overall, it is not a
complete cinematic dead-loss, but it is definitely an inconsistent,
start-and-stop affair. If you have a taste for middlebrow tragedy, A Place on Earth stream-screens as part
of this year’s MyFFF, from Friday (1/16) to February 16th.
Frankly, it is part of a rather odd slate,
including the visually dazzling but hollow-on-the-inside The Strange Color of Your Bodies Tears and the raucously funny,
highly recommended A Town Called Panic—the Christmas Log. Those hoping to reconnect with French cinema for the sake of
solidarity in the wake of the Islamist terrorist attacks would be better
advised to check out the considerably more satisfying Special Forces and The Assault instead.
Labels: French Cinema, MyFFF '15