The Ninth Cloud (2017) *

February 4th, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Jane Spencer; Cast: Michael Madsen, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Megan Maczko, Elena Krausz, Sabina Akhmedova; Switzerland/UK 2014, 93′.

Sometimes films are kept on the shelf for a reason – The Ninth Cloud, a pretentious, verbose Nouvelle Vague rip-off set in Hackney, is a prime example. A male director would be rightly nailed to the cross for this febrile flop.

Three worlds collide when the dipsomaniac ‘damsel in distress’ Zena (Maczko) desperately tries and fails to channel Anna Karina in Band-à-Part (the big coat is a dead give-away). The flat she shares with pregnant Laura (Krausz) and over-sexed Helene (Akhmedova) is a viper’s nest, and no love is lost – later they are joined by a homeless woman.Zena is in love with Bob (Madsen), a pretend gay ‘artist’, who is actually married, but acts out meaningless scripts with his band of followers from the hostel in a derelict warehouse. The third set belongs to posh wannabes  led by Jean-Hughes Anglade (La Reine Margot) who reside in a hotel and fight it out like a bunch of cowboys. As it turns out, Bob is a not gay, and a con-artist to boot, and the scheme to raise money for a boy who lost his leg in the Congolese war is not only in very bad taste, but, like the whole enterprise, gradually peters out.

Bob and Zena talk non-stop about Les Enfants du Paradise with Jean Vigo and Rainer Maria Rilke who both died of broken hearts – but are equally at home on more basic territory: Zena telling her flat mates, that a man told her to touch his penis – the scene is repeated in images for the hard of hearing.

Shooting on the feature should have started in 2008, but the death of its star Guillaume Depardieu (to whom the film is dedicated) in the same year, postponed it for three years, and a two-year post-production did not help either; these may be contributory factors, but do not excuse this train-wreck of a feature. AS


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