Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 3:35 am 
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A fight against relocation

This little film, hovering on the brink between documentary and fiction, centers around a group of people who are getting evicted from their housing, particularly a theatrical man who (or so he says) has lost his voice due to cancer, and at first speaks only in whispers, Géro (Ludovic Douare). He takes in his girlish but confident 18-year-old nephew Léo (Renan Prévot) as a temporary all-round theatrical apprentice for the summer.

With Géro we enter a spunky marginal French world on the edge of social networks and urban planning in a suburban world of the Loire Valley. Géro is a stubborn, angry person, who was in a brutal reformatory kind of school when young, which may have marked him for life. Géro refuses to cooperate with relocation services and therefore risks winding up on the street. We never see Géro evicted; his long-gestating play eventually gets put on. The film is divided up into sections: 1. Les bonnes volontés (Good Wills), 2. Toute voiles dehors (Headsails and Courses), 3. Ne pas mourir (Not to die); what these mean is anybody's guess.

There are some men Léo meets at Géro's who're involved in a devious business, which may involve human trafficking. For some reason Léo winds up with one of these men in flight for several days. There are also women who work at an agency, one of whom leaves, and one of the women may be the former companion of Géro.

While the various segments of The Time of Pirates are momentarily interesting in themselves and characters are well realized, they never cohered, for me, into a story that makes emotional or artistic sense. The film seems as marginal as its subject matter. Compare the similarly marginal material of Pierre Schoeller's moving 2008 Verseilles (R-V 2009), which worked because of a compelling storyline and remarkable performances by Guillaume Depardieu and a seven-year-old boy named Max Baissette de Malglaive.

A collection of clippings about the film helps explain what Seuls les pirates is seeking to do and its reception in France.

The Time of the Pirates/Seuls les pirates, 89 mins., debuted July 2018 at FID Marseille, where it won the Grand Prix, and showed in Nov. at Belfort Entrevues. Listed on IMDb but not on AlloCiné. Screened for this review as part of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema at Lincoln Center, Mar. 2019.

Rendez-Vous showtimes:
Tuesday, March 5, 6:15pm

Wednesday, March 6, 2:00pm

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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