1 May 2008 | banapaulo
Brilliantly conceived, directed and edited, but ultimately disappoints
Got the chance to see this at the Sci-Fi London last night in a packed cinema. As a big fan of City of Lost Children and Delicatessen I was suitably excited. The film establishes itself from the off with a very confident and distinct visual style and sense of (the deep, dark void of) space.
A man arrives at a colony circling the fiery planet Dante, his name and history unknown. The ship is a base for psychiatric research on a handful of criminals, held as guinea-pigs and cut off from outside contact. The new man is seen as a messiah by some of the convicts, a trouble-maker by others, as the psychiatrists carry out routine and risky genetic experiments with their DNA.
The film maintains a heightened feeling of tension and claustrophobia that is almost migraine inducing but transfixing. The editing is first rate and the film is well acted (Dominque Pinon, a Caro and Jeunet regular, appears). Unfortunately, the plot keeps promising to go somewhere but ends up disappearing down a black hole of messianic symbolism, and the dialogue is fairly bland and perfunctory. The violence is also almost sickening at times, though this may not bother some.
This is a very confidently directed film that is clearly the unique vision of one very creative visualist, I only hope Caro could have applied his touch to better material and not surrender to pretensions of the religious and philosophical. I'm not suggesting that no film should try to tackle these things, but this film doesn't deliver enough of anything else. Many will call the film deep but ask them what it's about before you believe them.
Worth seeing, though. Definitely deserves better marketing, but I wouldn't want to be the one to do it.