9 Doigts | 9 Fingers (2017) | Locarno International Film Festival 2017

August 8th, 2017
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/Writer: F J Ossang | France/Port | Drama | 99′

Cult French auteur F J Ossang has made a handful of features: L’affaire des Divisions Morituri (1985); Doctor Chance (Locarno/1998; Dharma Guns (2010) and casts a niche selection of French stars for his latest Locarno Golden Leopard hopeful, a Noirish mystery drama with Paul Hamy, Damien Bonnard, Gaspard Ulliel and Pascal Greggory.

9 FINGERS is very much an exercise in style over substance; and if you like Ossang’s style then you will enjoy this enigmatic affair that could easily serve as a metaphor for the crisis-ridden state of the world. Shot in black and white with occasional sorties into the Academy ratio, accentuating the clandestine rather claustrophobic nature of the loose plotline, it follows a character named Magliore (Hamy) who, in the opening scenes, inherits a fortune from a dying man. Kidnapped by a gang after his loot, he then becomes their willing accomplice as they flee an unknown enemy across land and sea aboard a large steamer, beset by a mystery fever which could be typhoid. Utterly pretentious and arcane, this is nonetheless a sumptuously photographed wartime pastiche that feels hollow and bewildering despite the best efforts of its talented cast to breathe life into an episodic, threadbare narrative. Sadly, most of the audience walked out before the end credits rolled. MT



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