Monday, July 15, 2013

Alone Again: Three Worlds

The last time I saw a movie by myself at the Regent Theatre was Broken, which like Three Worlds was also a Film Movement selection. I don't know if any folks in the crowds I saw at other Gathr Previews Presents screenings were subscribers - it seems unlikely that all of them were - but I'm guessing that doing a "preview" of something that a non-trivial portion of your potential audience has had on DVD for 8+ months is going to reduce attendance some. I'd be interested to hear any reports from tomorrow's screening of The Informer; I won't be able to make it, but seeing as it had a screening at the Brattle as part of the DocYard series, I wonder if that will hurt it.

It's tough to know, though. One thing that is rather clear is that it's proving awfully difficult to build this series by word of mouth. The Regent doesn't seem to have a regular audience for film - its programs are whoever rents it for the night rather than something that serves a particular audience - and if they even send a regular email newsletter out anymore, I've dropped off the list. Gathr has had a rough time getting any sort of foothold in Boston - it's so difficult to book something here that nobody is checking on a regular basis. The Boston Phoenix ceased publication earlier this year, and I have no idea whether the likes of The Weekly Dig or the other alt-weeklies have any sort of film coverage to fill the void. I've recently seen a couple of complaints on Facebook about how films' distributors do almost nothing to highlight screenings when things are booked for a series. Heck, when something interesting slips into a multiplex for a week, it's often relatively deserted because nobody here seems to see advertising beyond what is being pushed out nationally.

Not that I would necessarily wish this on others; I tweeted "Screw you, movie about how tortured a hit-and-run driver and the witness who doesn't report him are", and that's before getting into the politics of immigration. That's underplayed a bit in the movie, at least to my American ears, and the way it ends kind of bugs me, in that it plays into some of the uglier stereotypes you hear about immigrants in every country - clannish, violent, and demanding money - and I'm not sure whether filmmaker Catherine Corsini is taking this characterization for granted or showing how the actions of the Parisians pushes them into that position.

In America, it's been a weekend for paying attention to certain people being treated better than others, and I can see that making this movie feel a little more sour.

Trois Mondes (Three Worlds)

* * (out of four)
Seen 9 July 2013 in the Regent Theatre (Gathr Previews Presents..., digital)

Three Worlds executes what it is reasonably well - almost well enough that it looks like director Catherine Corsini and her collaborators are going to make it work. The trouble is, she's chosen a story where people make bad enough decisions in the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident that the audience's sympathy and interest is somewhat harder to come by, and while the viewer doesn't necessarily need to like the characters, it's something else to be annoyed by them.

Start with Al (Raphael Personnaz), a Parisian car salesman about to marry the boss's daughter who, after tying one on with a couple of friends and co-workers (Reda Kateb & Alban Aumard) as part of impromptu bachelor party, hits a man walking home from work on the late shift. Medical student Juliette (Clotide Hesme) sees this, and in addition to calling an ambulance also winds up tracking down the man's wife Vera (Arta Dobroshi), as the official channels aren't going to knock themselves out for illegal immigrant workers. That might, perhaps, be that, except that Juliette and Vera become friends, and Juliette recognizes Al when the guilt-ridden man makes a visit to the hospital to see his comatose victim.

Now, if Juliette had just taken the license plate number she wrote down and contacted the police, Al probably would have tearily confessed and the movie would have been over in twenty minutes. So, instead, she tracks him down herself, makes contact, decides he's basically a good guy and tries to help him find a way to assuage his guilt without spending a year or two in prison. That gives the film a plot, but it's a story that can only be played out so long before the characters all go from acting on understandable instincts to being not just selfish, but stupidly so. It's the sort of thing that, barring truly excellent performances and storytelling, is eventually going to exhaust one's patience, with the question being whether the movie ends before that happens.

Full review at EFC.

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