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rochefort [Film Festival 09.26.11] movie review apocalyptic scifi dystopic

Year: 2010
Directors: Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
Writers: Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: rochefort
Rating: 9 out of 10

It's yet another bleak, dystopian future scenario wherein Darwin's law rules, apathy and conformity are the ultimate survival mechanisms, and society's evils are clad in business suits and hollow smiles, but Carre Blanc (which I believe translates to "White Square") is a welcome addition to the field. Actually, make that super-welcome. This movie earns a place next to the likes of 1984 and its children Brazil and THX-1138.

A perpetually grey city is home to a populace divided right down the middle into predators and victims, and everyday life is a tense tightrope walk in which every job interview and office party threatens to expose one's innate inclination towards violence or passivity. And when they fail one time too many, the weak are literally ground into food for the strong. Philippe (an excellent Sami Bouajila), whose mother committed suicide when he was younger to help him thicken his skin, has grown up to be a hard-hearted corporate "game tester" who spends his workdays testing potential employees with a series of physical brain teasers that are as brilliant as they are cruel. But his increasing coldness is steadily distancing him from his wife Marie (Julie Gayet, also excellent), the childhood sweetheart who saved Philippe from committing suicide himself when they were both teens in boarding school. And Marie longs for a child, even though the faceless corporate government pushes for all citizens to have as many children as possible (mainly to keep the food stocks full), but Philippe refuses.

While there are certainly elements that "Carre Blanc" shares with its influences and predecessors, director Jean-Baptiste Leonetti manages a deft blend of the absurdist touches of "Brazil" with an otherwise grounded and realistic depiction of life in a hopeless Metropolis. It never succumbs to the comic book-style trappings of action movies like "Equilibrium", but is still frequently violent, and the adult take on the subject matter ensures that the brutality on display is vastly more effective as a result. And it's easily one of the finest bittersweet love stories I've seen in a long, long time (and yes, I'm a sucker for a good one).

I can't play the contrary card on this one; from what I've heard so far, "Carre Blanc" is gaining fans everywhere it plays, and this is one bandwagon I'm fully on board. The pace guarantees that it probably won't win over as many of those genre fans who like their dystopias with lots of pulp, but "Carre Blanc" comes so close to transcending its genre altogether that I think movie fans will be discovering and rediscovering this one for a long time to come.

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Quiet Fan (10 years ago) Reply

Trailer is up on YouTube


scifiguy49 (10 years ago) Reply

Great review rochefort!

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