Lina Lamont

"What do you think I am, dumb or something?"

A Perdre La Raison and On The Road

The sun came back on Tuesday. We’d had two really crappy days, but I tend to think these things are sent to make us more appreciative of the good weather when it returns. I know I am not the only person here who celebrated with her first ice cream of the holiday.

With the improved weather came the superior films. Tuesday afternoon I settled in for A Perdre La Raison, irritatingly (and erroneously) translated on the press materials as “Our Children” but otherwise known as Loving Without Reason. (I had a chat with an intepreter about this and we didn’t have time to come up with a better title, but neither of the English translations really works.) Written and directed by Belgian filmmaker Joachim Lafosse, it concerns the intensely passionate relatonship of two young people who marry and have a family, while becoming increasingly reliant on and under the wing/thumb of the husband’s adoptive father (played with enormous restraint and appropriate ambiguity by A Prophet‘s Niels Arestrup). The story leads to a great tragedy that, while forseen, ultimately left me and other audience members horrified and numbed.

It is quite simply a superb film, and my greatest relief/joy/admiration for the writers is that they have crafted a completely realistic, unhysterical portrayal of a situation that could conceivably happen anywhere, to anyone. (The story was prompted by a real-life event in Belgium, but the characterisation and detail of the tale created from scratch.)

I then had the good fortune this afternoon to get a one-on-one interview with the director, during which I was able to commend his film’s excellent handling of difficult subject matter, and ask him detailed questions about the choice of music. And then directly after, I joined a Serb and a Lebanese journalist to interview the leads, Emilie Dequenne and Tahar Rahim, who shot to fame for his debut role in A Prophet with Arestrup. Very fruitful, and I will be able to give a few insights in a later review. I hope we get this film in the NZFF, I think it is a hugely important issue, handled brilliantly, and NZ audiences will respond well. Apparently Belgian audiences have not been as warm.

Last night I had dinner with a family of Toronto-based film writers and journalists, at a fantastic little Italian place. An amazing fireworks display greeted us as we left towards midnight, and we ambled home with the smell of gunpowder in the air.

Up early again for the eagerly anticipated adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, starring Tron‘s Garrett Hedlund (with his intense stare and charismatic gravelly voice), Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart, and the wonderful Sam Riley, whose talent was evident from the opening frames of Control and who can now add this to his growing list of well-played roles. I’ve not read the book, but Peter Howell from the Toronto Star has, and he thought it was terrific. I liked it a lot, and think there are many good things about the film (in particular the performance by young Brit Tom Sturridge as beat poet Carlo Marx) and Walter Salles’ proven success with the road movie genre (The Motorcycle Diaries) confirms him as the perfect person to bring this difficult novel/memoir to the screen. Perhaps for me it suffers simply for being faithful to its source material and being a bit drawn out and lacking a prominent narrative arc. Based as it is on a (portion of a) life story, there are no murders or explosions (I am fine without them, but I am just saying), but a lot of driving and drug-taking and sexual activity and riffing of poetry, and all this is very diverting and impressive the first few times, but does wear a little thin. Perhaps I missed my On The Road moment years ago, and so, without harbouring an attachment to the classic book, I don’t connect so much with the content. That said, the performances are great and often the energy in a scene imbues in the viewer a longing to just jump in a car and take off. As the protaganist Sal Paradise (Riley) is asked at the beginning, “You goin’ some place? Or are you just goin’?” – the film clearly articulates the book’s philosophy that it’s the goin’ that counts.

As I write, the young stars are walking the red carpet below me to excited screams from the crowd. Kristen is telling the reporter she is “in love with the book” (how’s that post-Twilight credibility working out for ya?) while Sam and Garrett just look pleased to be en route to their premiere.

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