Thursday, August 23, 2012

Innocent Lies by Patrick Dewolf

I'm sorry but I have found no trailers or pictures of any kind of this film...
Innocent Lies

I spotted it coming from Showtime the previous day just by coincidence while sorting through the program tables. Didn't even stop at first but returned to check. Yes, it was it! I have seen it maybe twice before, just as coincidentally. Innocent lies. One and a half hours. Not a big film. Cinematic. Intriguing and beautiful in a simple yet very twisted way. Like Finzi-Continis. Laconic even. Just lovely!

1938 on an island along French coast a British policeman shots himself. His 'adopted' son Alan (Adrian Dunbar) comes with a young daughter to find out if it really was a suicide. Airplane, boat, lighthouse, dunes, cafes... trés idyllic, and the music is like a caress.  It all just covers something deep and black, souls grown to each other so they never would stand free.

She, Celia, (Gabrielle Anwar) is silently beautiful - reminds me of Dominique Sanda, a little disturbed animal, high wired and excitable. And she draws men like a casino gamblers. The young police is caught immediately - just watching her delicate body and trembling lips. Her wedding to an American young man is due in a week yet no-one is enthusiastic. And she knows something... perhaps dangerous.

The house of her family has a weird atmosphere: nazi mother (Joanna Lumley), a brother, Jeremy (Stephen Dorf),  who shot his twin with an arrow as child - accident was ruled - and his make-do wife, a jewish whore married just to annoy mother. Celia's former fiance was killed in a car crash just days before the wedding. And the relationship of Celia and Jeremy is full of strange tension, sensual and twisted. All this is presented in small clues of gesticulation and somewhat shady fragments of conversation, and it is both fascinating and intriguing to follow the transparent net of past deeds and feelings to become visible.  This demands a lot from the audience, knowledge of human behaviour and psychology as well as understanding of the way this film takes shape, not as a tight plot with certain steps but as a spectrum of possibilities and how they drop dead by the path. Only the inevitable, necessary is followed, as Celia puts it: Fate.

Everything clings wrong and broken, no pure sound exists. Celia seduces Alan easily as needing protection. She comes to him in his lodgings and the scene is broken by his daughter waking up. The same night the mother is strangled. The investigation turns to this violent act. Jeremy is detained but released, and Celia's fiance leaves for NY. Alan is deeply entwined with Celia, and confused by her reaction to the sound of a clicker used to train dogs, that was found in her mothers belongings. Celia dreams flashes from the arrow-incident...

And again in the evening she arrives to Alan's lodgings. This time they copulate ferociously while Celia reveals all to him in her sexual frenzy. Her fiance committed suicide after seeing her and Jeremy have sex and it was deeply satisfying... They also killed the mother together, sister and brother. Again she begs his protection. He denies it as situation is so condemning and she is arrested. But later he comes to her and takes her to the railway station so she can catch the train to freedom. From hiding he observes wether she'll go.

She is still on the platform when the train leaves and then phones her brother. Jeremy arrives and they go inside the railway station hall to an empty office room. The staff is having a birthday party in the room next. Jeremy wants her and she submits as she always has done. The clicker perhaps used by her mother or Jeremy or both. In her mind memoirs we see it was she that shop the brother, not Jeremy, who just said where to shoot. She was the guilty one and he knew it. She can not deny him. During the act he starts to strangle her and she panics grabbing the long scissors from the table and...   When Alan brakes in Jeremy is dead and she has crumbled to a corner sobbing and sucking her thumb, the little mindless dog without owner. The regression is complete.

Of course it is unreal. These strains between persons in closed circles are evident, but usually dismissed by categorical  refusal. Children left alone... yes, children are so vivid and close to everything. They don't stamp acts as 'good' and 'bad' but rather 'dull' and 'exciting'. And they have no inhibitions regarding relationships - a brother is very like any other boy, just present more often... and so these tragedies evolve from little innocent lies through the years until everything is corrupt and comes crashing down.

All this is told with impeccable pictures containing just the necessary, nothing more nor less in perfect light and composure - a real pleasure to watch! No exaggeration, no distortion, just simple straight lines. The cinematography is almost classic. Straight lines, slow thoughtful movements and tracking. Mornings in soft haze, -no direct hard sunlight at all - and nights with the sea dark, lamps giving little light and the rain splashing down. The beam of the lighthouse turns and turns cutting the darkness.

Interiors are simple and detailed by the era convincingly. And the clothes, wonderful tweeds and knits hand embroidered, nothing over worked and pretentious. The little girl Angela playing and the red haired French boy at the beach, her cardigan and the seashells on sand... The music was soft piano tunes lingering in the air, some cello perhaps as dramatic, nothing discerning.

The film is a delight - and the end always comes to everything. The war is closing upon the little islands and jews are escaping. There are ominous lists of people... Idylles fade to be reborn again somewhere else in some other time. Just a little excerpt of time. Very strong and enchanting in it's simple European beauty. Yes, it had something, a touch of real cinema, real innocence and very real amorality - a refreshing experience...


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