Souffle

Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Pierre-Louis Bonnetblanc, Dominique Chevallier, Maxime Dalbrut, Jean-Claude Lecante

Director: Damien Odoul

If you’ve ever harboured fantasies of the ‘one year in Provence’ variety and thought life in a rambling French farmhouse might be appealing – this film might set you thinking. Rural France is not all delicious fresh goats cheese, bonne viveurs and raw red wines.

The first thing to note about LE SOUFFLE is that it’s filmed in black and white – and it’s a good thing too if you happen to be of a squeamish persuasion. Opening with the slaughter and disembowelling of a sheep, the film shows the reality of man’s relationship with nature on a working farm – and you know it’s not the humans who are going to get the rough end of the deal. Or do they? Fifteen year-old David (Pierre-Louis Bonnetblanc) is spending a long hot summer with his uncles on their farm and this is really his coming-of-age story. As a teenage boy bored senseless and generally gross as only teenage boys can be, you wonder if David is almost being presented as a dumb animal himself. He rambles around the farm listening to French rap on his Walkman, avoids communication and appears to have no feelings for anyone else. He’s angry with the world because he’s been abandoned by his father and it seems his mother has sent him off to stay on her brothers’ farm to try and smooth down some of his rough edges.

To break the monotony of the long hot summer David’s uncles are preparing a lunch party for some of their male friends. David is told that he can sit and drink with them for the first time – proper male bonding stuff and it seems things are looking up.

As the heat of the afternoon intensifies and David drinks more and more, the party collapses into a drunken haze. Later he goes to meet his friend Matthieu and the alcohol brings his bad temper to a head as he lashes with genuine teenage angst against the weaker farmyard creatures and his gentle friend.

An air of impending violence hangs over the whole film, and you will the crisis to hurry up and come to a head just so it will be over. Damian Odoul’s film is intriguing, as are the untrained actors he chose for their interesting faces and naturalistic style.

3 out of 6 stars

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