Rating: The Good – 76 Genre: Crime, Thriller Duration: 101 mins Director: Danny Boyle Stars: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel
A suave and tricksy thriller detailing a heist mob’s unconventional attempt to hypnotically uncover the location of a stolen painting amidst emotional turbulence and full-blown crises of identity. Trance offers the best and worst of mercurial director Danny Boyle at about a 30/70 split. Stunningly shot and soundtracked to Rick Smith’s pulsing melodies, it sets out to explicitly defy narrative convention and treat us to a razzle-dazzle experience over old fashioned storytelling. Though we’ve seen attempts like this before, what Trance lacks in originality it makes up for in burning focus and unflinching persistence. And with James McAvoy and the always splendid Rosario Dawson mischievously wrapped up in the deep dark psychological hijinks, the experiment is only enriched. But trippy entertainment only goes so far and with the plot hoisted so brazenly atop of Boyle’s sacrificial alter, not even actors of their class and magnetism can keep us invested in the manner we’d expect and desire from a clever heist thriller.
Rating: The Good – 62.3 Genre: Action Duration: 142 mins Director: Christopher Gans Stars: Samuel Le Bihan, Mark Dacascos, Vincent Cassel
An action-packed French film set in the late 1700′s about a naturalist and his Native American companion who are sent by the King to investigate rumours of a beast that is terrorising a remote province. Brotherhood of the Wolf tells a highly original story and it’s shot beautifully throughout and, although there is an irksome overuse of matrix-esque slow-motion and freeze-framing during the action scenes, the fighting is brilliantly choreographed and there’s plenty of it. It does run about 45 minutes too long however and the resolution at the end is somewhat unsatisfying.
Rating: The Good – 82.8 Genre: Crime, Drama Duration: 98mins Director: Mathieu Kassovtiz Stars: Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui
Compelling and energetically directed drama about three disaffected Parisian youths whose run-ins with an overworked and in many ways corrupt police force see them becoming increasingly frustrated as they go about a day in their lives. Picking up the day after an estate-wide riot, the three young men sift their way through the rubble and attempt to come to terms with the heightened hostility in their own unique ways.
The actors all play characters with the same first names as themselves, a device which plays towards the same documentary-like feel that the dialogue, sound, and photography combine to produce. Vincent Cassel is outstanding as the more unhinged of the group and as Vinz, he offers glimpses of fear and confusion which he hides behind outward bravado and disaffected rage. Saïd Taghmaoui puts in an often amusing turn as the less focused of the three main players and does well to expose his vulnerability in subtle manners throughout the film. Hubert Koundé weighs in with the most enigmatic performance as the soulful, intelligent boxer and reluctant guardian of the estate. It’s through “Hubert” that writer-director Mathieu Kassovtiz constructs and delivers his most piercing statements on the life of France’s underprivileged.
Kassovitz’ direction is inspired throughout and imbued with the daring and verve of the mid-90’s Tarantino generation. That shouldn’t be mistaken for derivation though as he’s very much in command here and there’s a distinct personality to the way the whole thing is put together. Shot in colour and then printed on black and white film, the stark contrasts in colour work excellently to depict the ghetto like “estates” as an urban wilderness where pent up frustrations are given no outlet and where the intellect is left largely unstimulated. Through his camera angles and electrically charged editing, he gives Vinz, Saïd, and Hubert a dangerous momentum framed superbly by the boredom of the day and desolation of the urban landscape.
La Haine is a complex and balanced analysis befitting the documentary style with which the drama is depicted. The good and bad of both sides to the public crisis are represented and always within context. There’s an addictive flow to the dialogue as it captures both the inane and the perceptive quality to the three men’s thinking. The conclusions it draws aren’t ground breaking but they are considered, carefully constructed, and emphatically delivered.