January 24, 2003
The Life Of Jesus & Humanity

Bruno Dumont's first film, 'The Life of Jesus' - a modern day look at a french kid, his motorcycle, his girlfriend, and his life in the North of France. It's one of those - shit, rare - films that manages to be vivid in the way that experience is, and whenever this is achieved it's a challenge to say why. There are a few things that come to mind: Dumont doesn't need much dialogue to make points about his mostly introverted characters, and his sound design has a precise, purely poetic quality. The most striking thing is his use of POV shots. We get right into these people's minds, and see stuff everyone sees, except, for some reason, people in movies.

For a debut film, I think The Life of Jesus is a little unprecedented, but I tend to get carried away saying stuff like this. I do remember thinking the last shot of the film was one of the classiest things I'd seen on the big screen. I put him in a category with Antonioni, Rohmer and almost even Fassbinder - were it not for the fact that Fassbinder made 43 films in 37 years of life, and Dumont has made only 3 in 45. (But really, 43 films in 37 years of life! No one will ever be in that category - ever!) Oops, I digressed.

Dumont's follow-up, Humanity, is colder, and more abstruse, but also maybe a little bit better. It earned flat-out masterpiece-status on the festival circuit in '99 and turned him into the Great French Hope. I finally checked it out a couple weeks ago and I think I love this movie. I figure Dumont arrived on the scene with his technique already fully developed, so all he could really do was plunge into darker territory, which he does, I think, bravely.

Humanity begins with the discovery of a child who has been raped and murdered. It promises to be a portrait of who would do such a thing and offers a multivalence that takes our need for revenge and leads us toward compassion with it.

I was a little dissatisfied with the development of some of the peripheral characters. It would have bothered me more if I didn't feel like something profound was getting across. But as it is, there just aren't a lot of people making movies on the level that this guy is working on.

Better than Y tu Mama Tambien!

Posted by at January 24, 2003 06:33 PM
Comments

I do hate sums. There is no greater mistake than to call arithmetic an
exact science. There are permutations and aberrations discernible to
minds entirely noble like mine; subtle variations which ordinary
accountants fail to discover; hidden laws of number which it requires a
mind like mine to perceive. For instance, if you add a sum from the
bottom up, and then again from the top down, the result is always
different.
-- Mrs. La Touche (19th cent.)

Posted by: Party Poker on November 4, 2004 08:03 PM .
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