16 October 2011 | PoppyTransfusion
This film needs more love
The film title is actually Errance, singular, and translates as wandering. The film itself wanders, never settling for a linear narrative and thematically the film charts the restlessness within the main protagonists showing scenes from their marriage.
Husband and wife Jacques (Benoit Magimel) and Lou (Laetitia Casta) love one another but their marriage is overshadowed by Jacques's alcoholism and sexual philandering, as well as the legacy of his time as a special forces operative in the French-Algeria war. Try as he might Jacques cannot shake free from his days as a soldier or the other ex-soldiers who try and seduce him into crime. He promises to be the man of the family and we witness him consistently failing in spite of such promises.
The film is a series of three vignettes: the birth of their son Cesar (charmingly played by Matteo Taridito); the family trying to make a living on the coast; and, the finale when the family return to live in the city as a make or break for the marriage. The cinematography is beautiful and the French and Corsican landscapes exploited fully for mood and effect. Casta and Magimel give outstanding performances; Casta's rapport with the boy actor Tardito is powerful enough to convince she is his mother and Magimel effectively portrays Jacques's complexities, with a bloated stomach to boot.
There are moments of genius: the opening scene where Jacques relieves himself to the backdrop of mountains in swirling mists; and Cesar's dream after the dance, which reminded me of David Lynch, are two examples. There are moments of incredible tenderness too: the fight between Jacques and Lou and Cesar's efforts to stop his father; Jacques's drunken dance on the beach at night as a man and woman sing softly in Arabic.
Perhaps because of the non-linear narrative there is a lack of insight into the characters that does not satisfy. One critic review I read suggested this film was intended by the director (Damien Odoul) to form a trilogy with his earlier films, neither of which I have seen. Perhaps seeing the three films together might provide a context that is not well established in Errance.
All told this is a good film in spite of frustrations and even if the story does not work the scenery and performances make it worth the watch. I'd probably give 6.5/10 but will mark it up as it's present rating of 4.9 is ridiculously low.