Saturday, June 6, 2015


20th French Film Festival
Greenbelt 3 Cinemas

The vast Swiss Alps in all his majestic glory provides an excellent backdrop for this bizarre drama. Marc (Mathieu Amalric) is a creative writing professor at the University of Lausanne.  A Don Juan who beds his impressionable students and lives with his possessive sister Marianne (Karin Viard) with whom he has this semi-incestuous relationship. 

Upon the disappearance of one of his students (who in the beginning of the film is shown naked in his bed), a mysterious woman named Anna (Maiwenn) enters his already chaotic world. She claims she is the step-mother of the missing student and wants to trace her last known whereabouts. Soon enough, Marc and Anna start this torrid and very passionate affair. 

Even if the viewers know that Marc is somehow involved in the disappearance, he doesn't seem at all alarmed by this development. He carries on with his flirtatious ways, being charming although physically he isn't really an attractive man, per se. Much credit must be bestowed upon Mathieu Amalric (one of the hardest working French actors in the industry) for accepting this intriguing role. There is no doubt that there is much more to Marc than is shown but Amalric manages to insert just enough charm for the viewers to 'invest' in his character's well being even if he is clearly a disturbingly flawed character.

Several threads are interwoven yet somewhat fall short in actually providing a clearer bigger picture. It is not exactly marketed as a whodunit with investigators searching for clues, gathering evidence and interrogating Marc as the last person to have seen the student alive. It is a mystery that isn't tightly plotted but structured just loose enough for viewers to start being distrustful of the right people and scrutinizing them before suspicions are confirmed.

Based on a Phillippe Dijan novel entitled "Incidences" (which naturally I have never heard of, let alone read!), the film takes on an increasingly bizarre vibe with twists that don't quite make sense. But the panoramic scenery of the imposing snow covered mountains, the Alpine chalet where the siblings reside as well as the very modern edifice of the University of Lausanne are enough reasons to contemplate this film. Another bonus is Almaric's nuanced performance as Marc.

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