Bruno Dumont made an impressive directorial debut with THE LIFE OF JESUS, a portrait of disaffected French country youth that startled audiences with its slow pace and raw depiction of sexual intercourse. His follow-up is more of the same: more sex, more
nudity, more unflinching close-ups of women's genitalia and lingering long shots of other French scenery. Dumont once again sets his film in the picturesque Northern French town of Bailleul, where the raped and murdered body of an 11-year-old schoolgirl is found in the rolling hills. Assigned to
the case is Pharaon De Winter (Emmanuel Schotte), a dazed, saucer-eyed police investigator who looks as if he hasn't quite recovered from some terrible shock. Pharaon, it seems, once had a wife and a child, and while their fate is never made clear, their loss has left him dazed and disconnected.
Pharaon lives with his surly mother (Ginette Allegre) and lusts after neighbor Domino (Severine Caneele), a grubby seductress who, when she's not having loud sex with her boyfriend Joseph (Philippe Tullier), hangs out on her stoop waiting for something (life, maybe?) to happen. Beautifully shot by
Yves Cape with the same widescreen virtuosity as LIFE OF JESUS, this film is nevertheless paced so slowly there are moments when you'd swear it was moving backward. In fact, Dumont's film could be considered filmdom's first anti-policier, a murder investigation in which the police work is
completely ineffectual and moves the "hero" further away from the truth. (Typical exchange: "Do you feel like answering questions?" "No." "We'll come back.") The film is just the sort of exquisite looking, patience-testing ordeal that leads a certain segment of its audience to proclaim the second
coming of Robert Bresson. Indeed, this curiously empty film was awarded the Jury Prize at the 1997 Cannes film festival, where Schotte and Caneele also won prizes for best actor and actress.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: NR
- Review: Bruno Dumont made an impressive directorial debut with THE LIFE OF JESUS, a portrait of disaffected French country youth that startled audiences with its slow pace and raw depiction of sexual intercourse. His follow-up is more of the same: more sex, more… (more)