Thursday, February 18, 2016

In the Trenches

La peur/The Fear (2015) - Odoul
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We've seen this before. War is hell: Young men, full of curiosity, join the army to fight the krauts, find the front line a hell on earth and lose their humanity. It happens in Damien Odoul's La Peur. Gabriel (Nino Rocher), a 19-year old full of enthusiasm, leaves his love Marguerite behind to fight in the Great War. He loses his sensitive poet friend first even before going to the front to mental breakdown, then loses his best friend Bertrand in the early days in the trenches. As he narrates through his letters to Marguerite, he loses his humanity, little by little.

I was impressed with Odoul's Rich is the Wolf, couple years back at Rendez-vous with French Cinema. Visually audacious mystery/investigative story was full of memorable, strong imagery. What distinguishes La Peur from other war films is its visual authenticity, the mood and the feeling, the somber HD look is at once gorgeous and frightening at the same time. It depicts the horrors of war in natural muddy details in a labyrinthine trenches dug in frozen earth. It's heartbreaking to see someone's soul being destroyed slowly and Odoul's imagery does justice to reflect the immediate physical fear but the fear of losing humanity. Hallucinatory, nightmarish sequences blend in as Gabriel goes deep end. It's a quietly audacious film that leaves a lasting impression.

La peur plays on 2/18, 19 at FSLC Walter Reade Theater. Please visit FSLC website for tickets.