Tuesday, October 03, 2006


The Untouchable

France, 2006, 82 min, Color, 35mm

Directed By: Benoît Jacquot
SCR: Benoît Jacquot
CAM: Caroline Champetier
ED: Luc Barnier, Marion Monnier
MUS: Vijay Jaiswal, Monu Rao
Cast: Isild Le Besco, Marc Barbé, Bérangère Bonvoisin, Parikshit Luthra, Neetu Jhanjhi

In Benoît Jacquot's assured, compassionate and compelling feature, the ravishing Jeanne (Isild Le Besco) lives and works in Paris as a struggling stage actress. Her once-promising career is stagnant, and something is clearly missing from her life, emblematic in the fact that she never knew her father. When her mother (Bérangère Bonvoisin) tells the nervous Jeanne that her father may have been an untouchable, the lowest strata of the strict Hindu caste system, she quits her Brecht production, take a job in a trashy movie to make money and abruptly sets out on a quest to find him, and, perhaps, discover herself in the process.

As Jeanne searches for her father in a vibrant, colourful India, Caroline Champetier's hand-held camera provides an immediacy to the action that borders on cinema vérité. Jeanne enlists the help of a young man (Parikshit Luthra) to serve as her guide to the strange place, and her wandering becomes more than the simple act of finding a name on a slip of paper, but an existential exploration. Director Jacquot--who most recently appeared at the VIFF with À Tout de suite, also starring his muse, Le Besco--is an auteur with a singular vision. The heroes of Jacquot's films, often young, female and disadvantaged, stumble into life-changing experiences, flail about, and occasionally stumble back out again. Their understanding of their lives is fragmented and chaotic, and in this, The Untouchable is genuine in a way that few films dare to be.

IMO, this movie would have been better off as a rental or a weekend movie. Because I caught this afterwork, after a long day, I was not in a "thinking" mood. The film played itself out pretty choppy and every point in the movie was to be assumed by the viewer. I didn't like the two camera views, one being as the view and the second one being the character's view. I guess my eyes were already tired and to have the film in her view which was pretty shaky as if the camera was a handheld. Maybe this movie would have been better if I was ready for it. Not as good as "Dans Paris".

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