Oh Broth­ers, where art thou go­ing with this?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews -

Court­ney), a slow thinker, and young Scwally (TJ Grif­fin). Times are grim. The boys’ fa­ther, played in glimpses by DonWy­cher­ley, is slowly dy­ing and money doesn’t seem to be in great sup­ply.

When bul­lies break his dad’s watch – a cheap item with great sen­ti­men­tal value – Noel de­cides to em­bark on a small odyssey to se­cure a re­place­ment. The time­piece came from a claw-grab ar­cade game in Bally­bunion, and Noel be­lieves (slightly il­log­i­cally, it must be said) that this is the only place re­demp­tion can be achieved. Paudie and Scwally tag along.

De­spite the short­ness of the jour­ney, the char­ac­ters man­age to en­counter an ex­tra­or­di­nary de­gree of colourful in­ci­dent. They evade an im­pres­sively vile road­side ped­erast. They get to watch a 3D movie. In a rather beau­ti­ful mo­ment of for­giv­able trick­ery, words are spelt out in the open air with sparklers.

This scat­ter­shot visual po­etry does oc­ca­sion­ally get out of hand (a dy­ing whale?) but the three young ac­tors do enough to lift the pic­ture above the or­di­nary. Creed is touch­ing. Grif­fin man­ages to be al­ter­nately an­noy­ing and adorable. But, as the awk­ward Paudie, Court­ney proves to be a char­ac­ter ac­tor of some bril­liance. Let’s see more of him. THERE’S A lonely rhythm to Anne’s quiet ex­is­tence. She jogs. She chops veg­eta­bles. She smokes. She eats from saucepans. She never an­swers her ring­ing phone. She lies awake at night in her Bordeaux apart­ment. She teaches her­self Por­tuguese from a book. She silently pushes trol­lies and purees veg­eta­bles at a low-rank­ing kitchen job. She ig­nores the flir­ta­tious ad­vances of dash­ing young chef Raphaël.

We can’t be sure why she fol­lows an ur­sine fel­low film buff af­ter a screening of The Life of Oharu down a dark al­ley­way one evening. Her cool de­tach­ment only serves to frus­trate him: “Do some­thing,” he cries. “Hug me.” She doesn’t.

In the con­text of di­rec­tor Yves Cau­mon’s anatomy of grief, a minia­ture com­posed of tiny strokes, the flat, dis­ap­point­ing en­counter passes for an ex­plo­sive in­ci­dent. Anne’s drama lies else­where and off­screen in a back­story we piece to­gether: a dead son, a failed mar­riage and a re­treat into stul­ti­fy­ing rou­tine.

Her un­avail­abil­ity is a con­stant source of frus­tra­tion to oth­ers. “Say­ing ‘no’ to ev­ery­thing isn’t hu­man,” rages Raphaël. “Don’t do this. It’s not fair,” sighs Anne’s ex­as­per­ated ex-hus­band as they arrive to lay flow­ers on their child’s grave.

San­drine Kil­ber­lain has played a be­reaved mother be­fore, in Claude Miller’s Betty Fisher and Other Sto­ries, and has a fine track record as an on­screen ice maiden. Here she finds new sub­tleties in gloomy re­serve and lets her tall an­gu­lar frame and slow, stul­ti­fied blinks do most of the ar­tic­u­la­tion.

Still, did we re­ally need an­other French cham­ber piece an­chored by, sigh, a bird in a cage? Will Anne ever set the pi­geon she finds free? Will she, in turn, leave the safety of her nest? Will the dap­pled sun­light of Cé­line Bo­zon’s ver­dant cin­e­matog­ra­phy give way to rain as the mood dark­ens?

The clichés keep com­ing. Ev­ery­where Anne turns, there are peo­ple en­joy­ing sex in store­rooms and by river­banks. It’s al­most as if these cou­plings ex­ist to coun­ter­point her crip­pling thanatos-thing with vi­tal­ity.

Come to think of it, aren’t there clear par­al­lels with the ru­ined hero­ine of Oharo? Oh, please. Plus ça change.

On the road: Ti­mothy Creed, Paul Court­ney and TJ Grif­fin

San­drine Kil­ber­lain in The Bird

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