For Reel

Hors Satan (2011)
April 9, 2012, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Bruno Dumont

A mysterious man, slender and clad in a zip-up hoodie and jacket, gains the accompaniment of an unnamed young woman. What incited their companionship is unclear, but one begins to suspect that the man is a cult leader of sorts – committing random acts of violence, often dropping to his knees and looking up to the sky in prayer. In these early proceedings, one can’t help but feel that acclaimed French filmmaker Bruno Dumont is simply repeating the themes that he was after in his previous film, Hadewijch, in which a young Christian fanatic is banished from a nunnery and finds a new community amongst Muslim extremists. Facially, the actresses are quite similar, and there are significant parallels in the way that each woman finds comfort in a relationship with a dangerous, pious figure. Dumont, however, gradually takes interest in something more evasive – as the film progresses, some miraculous events take place, ofttimes through the man’s rape of female characters. As grisly as these events are, much of the violence is left to a frequently used elliptical fade out, lending the picture a sense of disorientation that challenges the audience’s expectations of the characters and their intentions even further. Questionable as it is that, once again, Dumont’s female characters are universally victimized in terrifying, violent ways, his landscapes are a marvel to behold, and the blend of naturalism with a puzzling metaphysical crescendo recalls (admittedly much better) works like Dreyer’s Ordet.

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