Friday, May 16, 2014

Left Bank (2008)

Original title: Linkeroever

Director: Pieter Van Hees

Writers: Pieter Van Hees, Christophe Dirickx, Dimitri Karakatsanis

Composer: ???

Starring: Eline Kuppens, Matthias Schoenaerts, Sien Eggers, Marilou Mermans, Frank Vercruyssen, Robbie Cleiren, Ruth Becquart, Tinneke Boonen, Sara De Bosschere, Jamahl Boukriss

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Sometimes the truth is better left unsaid.

Plot: Eline Kuppens stars as Marie, an emotionally troubled and socially isolated girl from a broken family, who finds meaning in her life by committing to intense athletic competition. Sadly, Marie soon catches an infection, which triggers an immediate physical collapse and forces her to rest for a lengthy period of time. She nonetheless finds solace in a new paramour, the archer Bobby. He not only imparts reassurance and provides an emotional anchor, but exudes an optimism and a zeal for life that prove contagious and even prompt Marie's mother to invite comparisons with Marie's dad. Then, just when it seems that the young woman could not possibly feel more joyous or content, her life turns a dark corner. She agrees to move into Bobby's flat on the "Left Bank," a dank and slightly menacing housing project in a seedy neighborhood. In seemingly no time, she learns that a previous occupant vanished under inexplicable circumstances, which adds to her overall sense of paranoia; she also suffers physically, from encroaching headaches, nausea and sleeplessness, and becomes convinced that the place is wreaking havoc on her mind and body. Meanwhile, her mistrust of the incredulous and skeptical Bobby also builds to a fever pitch.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

Disregard the first trailer. It's made to look like a stupid Hollywood movie and with cheesy narration that is completely wrong for this film. It's terrible and exudes what's wrong with the popular American system.  The second one is closer to the right tone.  Much better, right?  I really dig foreign cinema.  They have a different sensibility and perspective than we Americans do.  Sure, every country turns out some real stinkers but over here in the U.S. we tend to find out about the good ones, much like a filter.  LEFT BANK is from Belgium and it kind of has a ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968) and THE WICKER MAN (1973) vibe but don't look too far into that because those two films won't begin to spoil the story here.  It's just a feeling, really.

Some might be turned off by the pacing but I found it just about right.  It's engaging and curious.  What's going on here?  Is it going to end like other movies I've seen?  Nope.  I didn't see it coming.  The film has moments of surrealism and sometimes things don't make sense.  There are short dreams and scenes that will leave you scratching your head until the end.  Then there's the ending itself.  Hmmmmm.  I'm giving it a slightly higher score than I originally intended because I think my questions will be answered on a second viewing BUT it might turn out there are no answers and the film makers were just being pretentious fucks for the sake of art.  Either way, it's still an interesting and nice film to watch.  The score, acting, cinematography, effects all work well.  It's an easy going horror thriller that is a nice, relaxing and intriguing ride even if it's not 100% coherent on the first watch.  What else ya got, Belgium?

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