|OUTSIDE SATAN (HORS SATAN) (director/writer: Bruno Dumont; cinematographer: Yves Cape; editors: Basile Belkhiri/Bruno Dumont; cast: David Dewaele (the Guy), Alexandra Lematre (the Girl), Valerie Mestdagh (the Mother), Sonia Barthelemy (the Kid’s Mother), Juliette Bacquet (the Kid), Christophe Bon (the Keeper), Dominique Caffier (the Man With the Dog), Aurore Broutin (the Backpacker) ; Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jean Brehat/Rachid Bouchareb/Muriel Merlin; New Yorker Films/New Wave Films (PAL format); 2011-France-in French with English subtitles)|
|"A haunting meditation on a
controversial way of dealing with religious
matters by a healer posing as a holy man,
who blurs the line between right and wrong."
by Dennis Schwartz
A haunting meditation on a controversial way of dealing with religious matters by a healer posing as a holy man, who blurs the line between right and wrong. Arty French director Bruno Dumont ("Hadewijch"/"Twentynine Palms"/"Life of Jesus") offers a unique and intoxicating look at the strange ways of an unnamed drifter (David Dewaele) and the life altering effects his stay in a sleepy French country village has on the primitive people he encounters. It follows along the lines of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema (1968), which told of miracles by a Christ-like modern-man wanderer who upset the lives of everyone he came into contact with. To avoid distractions, Dumont films like Bresson with no music and keeps the dialogue sparse.
mysterious drifter in the Côte d’Opale on
the Atlantic Coast of northwestern France, by the
Channel, is befriended by the needy teenager
farm girl (Alexandra Lematre),
also unnamed, who clings to him as a security blanket.
To avenge her abusive treatment by her stepfather, the
healer, if you believe, kills him with a shotgun. The
clueless mom (Valerie Mestdagh)
has no idea why her husband was killed, as the police
investigate by concentrating on doing lab work on the
living outside in the country's marshes, the drifter
receives food from his girl and she regularly washes
his clothes. He takes long walks in the fild with her,
but refuses to take advantage of the under-aged girl
when she asks him to have sex with her. One walk is
interrupted when he's asked by the girl's neighbor, an
anxious mother (Sonia
Barthelemy), to heal her withdrawn daughter
(Juliette Bacquet). He seems to cure her by just
silently sitting in a chair by her bedside for a few
minutes and does nothing but look concerned. When he
leaves she's suddenly much better. Later, when she
goes into another funk, mom calls him back and he
performs an unorthodox exorcism by forcing
himself on her until she returns to normal.
spoiler in the next paragraph.
the unusual but derivative final scene (think Carl Dreyer's Ordet-1955!),
the girl is killed. We are led to suspect the
drifter but soon learn otherwise. The drifter,
after released by the police for severely beating
up the preserve guard
(Christophe Bon) just because he
tried to force himself on her, the drifter sneaks
into her family home where the girl's body lies on
a bed. After wrapping it in a sheet, he tenderly
takes it to rest by the marshes. He leaves after
kneeling down in a mock silent prayer and
miraculously she comes back to life with a gasp. Meanwhile
a local pervert, a peeper (Dominique Caffier),
is arrested for killing her, and the drifter leaves
town with the killer's dog in tow.
This is a thinking person's
film, where we are left unclear if the principal
character is a Christ-figure or just a sociopath.
The pic goes overboard on abstractions, making it
hard to believe that reality was best served.
Instead it plays out as a parable that used its
characters to fit the provocative director's agenda
of going weird on religious beliefs. Whatever, the
film is disturbing. It helps that it was superbly
filmed. But it merits being critiqued for the
controversy it creates. The healer, who early on
says "there's only one way," is far from a perfect
being. If he indeed found the "one way," he better
change or he will continue making critical mistakes
even if he might be capable of also performing
wonderful miracles. It has been my experience to be
wary of such curious types and their narcissistic
idea of right or wrong. The filmmaker's purpose is
to promote his belief that good and evil can be two
sides of the same coin, which may be right only
REVIEWED ON 7/25/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ