Monday, January 28, 2013

Devil or Saint

Hors Satan (2011) - Dumont
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Carl Dreyer's The Day of Wrath might be the spiritual ancestor to both Silent Light and Hors Satan. In fact, there are a lot of similarities in this and Reygardas' film - sumptuous cinematography, stunning rural landscapes and resurrection. But Dumont's film strips down its religious undertones and goes for something more interesting and ambiguous. Not that there is no beauty in showing religious faith, but it's helluva more interesting if the protagonist might as well be a devil!

Hors Satan tells a story of a sad faced interloper (David Dewaele) who builds a strong bond with a gothy teenage girl (Alexandra Lemâtre) in rural Northern France. It seems that the stranger does everything the girl asks him to. Only thing he doesn't grant her is her sexual advances (we find out why later on in one violent/funny encounter). He seems to be capable of violent acts and also possessing healing powers. The nature once again plays a big part in Dumont's film- lonely, windswept coastal Northern French town is as much a character as the sad faced people who inhabit it. There is something primal/animistic about Hors Satan: Dewaele's satan/saint often prays facing the expansive nature in front of him, kneeling down with one hand cupping the other. There are also some obvious Tarkovsky influences, especially with fire and water and a German shepherd.

Dewaele and Lemâtre are endearing in their quiet ways. I find the ending very touching, much more so than Breaking the Waves or Silent Light. I can't wait to see Dumont's new film, Camille Claudel, 1915.