Un Lac/The Lake (2008) - Grandrieux
If one could describe a certain cinema as a pure sensory experience, where one can feeeel (as Bruce Lee would say) it without licking the celluloid, Un Lac would be it. Unlike Philippe Grandrieux's two previous films where he seems to borrow the turgid noir/serial killer setting, the storyline (if you could call that) here is totally barebone- a family living in a shack near the lake in the snow swept landscape. A handsome stranger comes in and takes the daughter away, the end.
With extreme close ups, desaturated colors, intentionally underexposed, shaky and out of focus imagery (yet not quite abstract) is also extremely hard to make out especially in indoor scenes. Sound of whirring wind, river, rain, snow, breathing, footsteps, etc., are always present, accompanying the dark, grainy imagery and making Un Lac a living, pulsating entity, much like an injured horse in the film. The only music in the film kicks in the two third way in, by way of beautiful Hege, the sister of Alexi (the young epileptic lumberjack, whom Grandrieux opens the film with). Hege sings Mondnacht from Schumman's Liederkreis, Op. 39. and the music accompanies her high pitched singing. It's not only not out of place but enthralling and sad- sad because Alexi knows that she now loves another man.
The film's darkness gripped me and never let me go. Darkness can convey so much more than light and Grandrieux knows this. All in all, Un Lac is a lovely experience. I can only imagine how the theater viewing of this would be like. If you are interested in watching this, I suggest watching it alone with the headphones on with all the lights off.