Sometimes it’s nice to be surprised and sometimes there's comfort in knowing what's in store. When it comes to the films of Bruno Dumont one can expect introspection and long sequences of silence undercut by the director’s noticeable detached ponderous style. Dumont delivers once again with just that but Hors Satan is not comforting.
He's unnamed here but David Dewaele plays 'Le Gars', an unkempt man with rotting teeth who spends most of his waking hours wandering the fields and dunes that surround his sleepy seaside village. A sense of aloofness surrounds Le Gars as does an air of violence: when he dispatches Elle's (Lematre) stepfather for, we're led to believe, abusing her, Elle becomes besotted with her monosyllabic hero but her attempts to coax him into bed prove fruitless. Le Gars seems uninterested in her and everything else as he breezes through this world with a detached outlook. Just who is he and why is a local lady asking him to help her teenage daughter who she thinks is possessed?
Is Le Gars the Second Coming? Is he the devil? If he's the former, this is a different Jesus to the one who preached peace, love and understanding (as Jesus warned, he will return as a lion). Le Gars kills Elle’s stepfather and viciously beats 'le garde' (character names aren’t important here apparently but the actor is Bon) when he comes on too strong with Elle. He gives praise to, again we're led to believe, God, falling to his knees in thanks for a beautiful sunrise. If he’s the latter, he’s confused: there's an instinct to protect and to right wrongs. Or is this a Satan coaxing potential followers with kindness? Who knows.
Chances are you won't care. The languid pace kills any interest in finding out what Dumont is trying to say; we're always aware we're watching a film and, apparently more important to Bruno Dumont, we’re watching a Bruno Dumont film. The seemingly endless hill walking gets repetitive very quickly despite some gorgeous photography of misty fields at sunrise. The constant fade-ins and outs render the pace slower still.
There's a good idea here but Dumont's intrusive style ruins it.
Review by Gavin Burke | 14:18 | Thursday 3rd January 2013 | Movie Review
I liked this film. Sure, the constant hill-walking was repetitive, but the characters kept me interested. A curio, but an interesting one.Posted 15:52 | Sat 5th Jan 2013
Do you like watching people walk? If you do, you'll love Hors Satan. There are some good ideas in this film, but they are squashed by just how boring the whole thing is and the constant scenes of the characters trudging through the countryside. A film to avoid.Posted 19:42 | Wed 9th Jan 2013
I went to see this with a friend of mine and we both hated it. I said "if I wanted to watch someone walking for two hours, I'd attach a mirror to myself when I go out with my dog." He said, "a two hour movie about a French vagrant wandering aimlessly around the Emerdale sets." I agree completely with Bartel, some very good ideas in the film killed by the director's pretensions. If this was a student film, it would be failed as being unacceptably self-indulgent.Posted 22:51 | Thu 10th Jan 2013
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