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Far From Men (Loin des Hommes)
Far from Men is a revisionist Western set in Algeria in 1954 and based on Albert Camus’s short story “The Guest”. Viggo Mortensen plays Daru, a teacher in an isolated school tasked with the responsibility of getting a local murderer, Mohamed (Reda Kateb) into custody in the faraway village of Tinguit. Daru is initially against the idea but after fighting off locals attacking the school and wanting to dish out their own kind of justice, he decides to take on the perilous journey. The film then slowly let us in on the two main characters histories and circumstances as they set off across the harsh terrain of the Algerian deserts in wartime.
The film does a great job of just letting us know what we need to know at the right times and helps in creating a believable bond between the two disparate characters. Both Mortensen and Kateb fill their characters with real humanity which helps as we see the horrible conflict going on through their eyes. The film takes on an epic feel from capturing the harsh landscapes beautifully and also from Nick Cave’s typically superb score. Well worth a watch.
Writer-Director: David Oelhoffen Year: 2014 Country of Origin: France Duration: 101 minutes Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Reda Kateb, Djemel Barek
The New Girlfriend (Une Nouvelle Amie)
The New Girlfriend is the latest from the prolific (some would say too prolific) François Ozon. On this occasion he takes a Ruth Rendell short story as the seed for his film about Claire (Anaïs Demoustier), a woman coping with the loss of her best friend Laura who is surprised by how her best friend’s husband (Romain Duris) is coping with the loss. Initially confused by what she finds out she gradually begins to form a stronger bond with the husband as they cope with their mutual loss and their lives without Laura.
The film tries to blend broad comedy all the while trying to do some interesting psycho drama but never quite succeeds to gel the two together enough and it’s a slightly confused film because of this, but then again nearly every character in the film is dealing with confusion and changing desires so it’s kind of forgivable for the most part. Duris and Demoustier play the lead roles to the most of their potential, Duris in particular having to play the more difficult role. The film does look like your typical middle budget TV drama though unfortunately, maybe intentional with its Ruth Rendell roots, however I was expecting something a little more stylish or idiosyncratic, but not to be. A decent film all in all, but at its best in the middle act.
Writer-Director: François Ozon Year: 2014 Country of Origin: France Duration: 105 minutes Cast: Romain Duris, Anaïs Demoustier, Raphael Personnaz