Wednesday, March 10, 2010

French Film Festival 2010 - 8 (Tomorrow at Dawn)

Demain dès l’aube (Tomorrow at Dawn, Denis Dercourt, France, 2009)
I missed seeing Denis Dercourt's previous film La tourneuse de pages/The Page Turner, though I heard it's a good solid thriller. Well, after seeing his latest work, I feel like I need to search out his others. This is really good, intelligent, genre film-making.

I'm not going to describe any of the plot. I went into the cinema with no idea of what period the film is set, or what it's about. The less you know, the more you will enjoy it. For me, as a consequence, there was a bit of working out what I was actually seeing. Things are not always what they seem, but that's not due to silly trickery but rather, it's the skillful manner in which the director chooses to feed us information. It's really quite a ride.

Now, this is a genre film, a thriller and there are clear set-ups. I sometimes found myself thinking, "Why is he going down this path? Can't he see where this will take him" or "No! Don't do that". Despite the constructs, my heart remained firmly in my mouth for much of the film's duration. The constructs are very clever, not in a tricksy way, but in an intelligent manner that a discerning audience can still suspend disbelief.

There are elements to the film that are combined in a very thoughtful and original manner. Dercourt, himself a musician, has music as a central intrinsic element of the narrative. There are relationship issues on more than one front, there's death and dying (or the possibility of it) also on more than one front. There's an almost Fight Club element to some role-playing gone haywire. This is strong genre film-making and there's not a wasted moment on the screen. I like this film a lot.

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