Thursday, October 18, 2007

London Film Festival Day 2 - ALL IS FORGIVEN/TOUT EST PARDONNE - dysfunction

ALL IS FORGIVEN is a patient, quiet film about damaged relationships being mended. The first hour is an uncompromising look at a complete arse-hole. Victor (Paul Blain) is a married man with a young daughter. He is also an abusive, adulterous, work-shy, self-pitying junkie. His wife Annette (Marie-Christine Friedrich) puts up with him until she can't take any more, and walks out with their 4-year old daughter, Pamela. The second part of the movie sees the now teenage Pamela (Constance Rousseau) edge toward a reconcilation with Victor.

At first glance, this movie has everything that usually winds me up. No real sense of plot or momentum - just a series of lingering scenes shot with handheld cameras. Victor is a complete shit and Annette is weak to keep taking him back. But the scenes are so authentic - so well-written, so natural, so well-acted - that I became engrossed in this train-wreck. In the second half, I was as fascinated as Victor to see how Pamela had turned out as a teenager. I was on tenterhooks at their first meeting. Particular praise has to go to Constance Rousseau who manages to capture all the shades of curiosity, fear, and child-like courage of the teenage girl. One wonders if writer/director Mia Hanson-Love is yet another Cahiers du Cinema contributor who is destined for great things.

ALL IS FORGIVEN/TOUT EST PARDONNE played Cannes and London 2007 and went on release in France in September 2007.

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