Mittwoch, 17. September 2014

Filmkunstmesse Leipzig: La chambre bleue (The Blue Room)

There are movies that, even without your realizing what exactly transpires in them, sweep you off your feet with the sheer force of their style. French writer/director Mathieu Amalric's "La chambre bleue (The Blue Room)", an adultery drama/murder mystery, employs a highly fragmented narrative to purposefully complicate the telling of a probably straightforward story, but it does so in such a hypnotic way you can't help but be enthralled.

As someone often allergic to unnecessary filmmaking trickery used to disguise material insufficiency or solely to show off, I find Amalric's direction both technically accomplished and substantially justified. Jumping constantly between perspectives and different points in time, the editing is erratic yet anything but random. It always seeks out the perfect split-second to cut away and the exact frame to land on that would best stun, confound and suspend the spell of a prolonged erotic-dream-turned-nightmare. The close-ups-heavy cinematography is equally effective, capturing an urgent, corporal need of the two protagonists that's beautiful, primal. And what beguiling impressions these two actors have left for the camera to catch. Amalric, who also takes on the lead here, has found a phenomenal counterpart in Stéphanie Cléau. Not effortlessly attractive in the classical sense, she has that hint of wild, almost predatory passion hidden beneath a placid facade, which is not only complementary to the meekness of the male character, but in itself works wonders for a story about desire and power play.

For sure, the extended interrogation and courtroom scenes in the latter part of the film do begin to drag, a major failing especially for a film running only 76 minutes. But as a disturbing, sensual, all-around charged chamber piece accentuated by an alluring Hitchcockian score, it's a sly directorial exercise that surprises with the dexterity of its hands and the boldness of its strokes.

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