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New Century of Cinema
DOWSE Guide to the
by Tony Lee editor of
The Dream Life Of Angels
Director: Erick Zonca
113 minutes (18) 1998 widescreen Tartan
review by Mike Philbin
No easy ride, simple three act Hollywood narrative with this one. For true devotees of
world cinema only. The camera work and choice of framing is superb and sets the
haunting futility of life right from the off with many a behind the ear close-up. There
is a liberal use of handicam but not where you would expect it - ie: in the action
sequences. The editing is jarring often times but you know why it is being done, you
are on a ride. A twisting turning crazy construction that is far too deep to be
entertaining. It is plotless in a perfectly cold inhuman way, almost pointless. And
Isa is the lively young brunette who has just arrived in Lille, she
is the classic freeloader, willing to con a living from all those around her. Marie is
the head-down working girl who smokes pot in the lunch hour and sews 1000 sleeves a day
at a local sweatshop, she is the blonde, shy and pensive.
These two polar opposites are imprisoned in each others day to day
turmoil as they squat in a flat vacated by a teenage girl hospitalised in a car crash.
It is a tale of normal people living on the edge of desparation - there are no heroes
or heroines here, only honour gets in the way of life, death and decay.
Marie is balancing two guys in lively split shift, Charlie the fat
bouncer at the Blue nightclub and Chris, owner of the nightclub. After reading the
crash victim's diary, Isa plays nurse reading her sections from it as she pays silent
vigil at her bedside, willing her to open her eyes, make a sound, live.
All the colours are muted by the damp Lille light, the chilling
reality of survival starkly depicted by a washed out palette of rot and crumbling
scenery. You just can't take your eyes off the screen. Like watching one of those
luminous sticky spiders from a few years back roll down the living room window, this
film will not let you go. It first titillates you with Marie and Chris' sadomasochistic
love scenes that pepper the narrative then goes on to unflinchingly portray the classic
consequences of 'star crossed lovers'. The viewer is forced to endure the increasing
tension between Marie and Isa in some of the best acting in a film for years.
"I hope you have the life you dream of." Isa writes her
flatmate before leaving. By this time, you feel you are being set up to fear the worst
for the young Marie.
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