Dir: Céline Rouzet | Cast: Mathias Legout Hammond, Elodie Bouchez, Jean-Charles Clichet, Celeste Brunnquell | France, Thriller 104′
A mother gives birth but when she suckles her baby the results are startling in this beguilingly deceptive thriller with its dark vein of humour from first time feature filmmaker Céline Rouzet.
The intimate opening gives way to a gorgeous splash of bosky pastures and hills. This is the Ardennes in full summer where Georges et Laurence Feral have decided to settle with their two kids. Baby Philemon is now a teenager (Legout Hammond) and little Lucie (Laly Mercer) is ready to start school leaving Laurence to return to work. And they seem like any other family in this pleasant part of France.
The strange thing is their evenings seem to be spent hooked up to blood bags that Laurence has apparently filched from the blood donation department of the hospital where she now works.
Philemon has found a girlfriend Camilla (Celeste Brunnquell) but an unorthodox habit remains with him as he desperately tries to protect her from the truth. And one day he mysteriously saves the life of a local woman – but no one understands how. And this plot line is never really resolved. Philemon is clearly a troubled teen who gradually feels more and more of an outsider in this close knit community.
Often viewed on the widescreen with an aerial camera this is a sinister drama that gets darker by the minute, and the night scenes are particularly alluring as Philemon descends into the nightmare of his terrible affliction.
Best known for her award-winning debut documentary feature A Distant Thud in the Jungle (2020) Rouzet director with confidence from a script co-written by William Martin. Mathias Legout Hammond is the standout in a soulful performance sensitively supported by Élodie Bouchez and Jean Charles Clichet as his parents. MT
VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2023 | HORIZONS COMPETITION.