2 November 2016



This is a mad film, a mad film about crazy French people who do the craziest things. No offence intended to the French nation, by the way. I'm sure the French are as normal as the rest of us, but you wouldn't know it from this film, haha.

The film is described as a 'French-Portuguese metaphysical noir-thriller,' which I'm sure you'll agree is a bit of a mouthful. It was also simultaneously the first film of the director's for fifteen years and also, sadly, his last film. I don't see it so much as a thriller, myself, as a wacky love-story that happens to be riddled with metaphors, fantasies and, well, riddles as well.

It's the story of two good-looking young French chaps who find themselves lodging for a bit at a seaside guesthouse which is as much a madhouse as a place to reat their weary heads. Fuchs is a cute gay guy who's just quit his job at a Parisian fashion company. He's a tad promiscuous and likes to take things as they-ahem- come, even if it occasionally gets him into trouble. Witold... Well, Witold needs a paragraph of his own...

Witold, named after the writer Witold Gombrowicz, is the sort of tall, gangly, floppy-haired French studenty-type chap that used to get me hot under the collar under I actually had a mad passionate fling with one. A floppy-haired, stubbly guitarist with the sexiest accent imaginable, he seduced me in the heat of a steamy summer's night a couple of years ago, then in the morning he snivelled:

'Please don't tell my girlfriend about this...!'

I think I'm cured of my attraction to floppy-haired French men who wear scarves and long black coats that flop open like Dracula's cape. I think I'm cured, at any rate. It still has to be put to the test, haha.

Anyway, Witold's hair is the floppiest you'll ever see and it should probably get a credit of its own. He's just failed his law exams and has been ordered by his father to hole up somewhere and cram his arse off for a bit, hence the remote guesthouse away from all- well, most- distractions.

The main distraction at the guesthouse for Witold is Lena, the landlady's flirty daughter, who's recently married, though maybe not very happily, to a young architect called Lucien. Witold immediately loses his passionate writer's heart to Lena, an aspiring actress.

Oh, didn't I tell you, Witold's greatest wish- apart from 'banging' Lena, that is, is to be a writer. He's even written a novel, a thriller, called THE HAUNTED, which his father hated. That's because his dad wants his son to be a lawyer, but Witold no more wants to be a lawyer than I want to pay my water bill. He wants to write, and if his father gets his way and forces him into the lawyering business, he'll be one unhappy guy who hates his job. Like a lot of folks, I guess, haha.

There's a mystery element to the film as well, with Witold and Fuchs being confronted with decided oddities like birds and cats (Lena's beloved pet cat, as it happens) hanging by their necks, stone-dead, in odd places. There's a stain on the bedroom wall that looks like a vagina and there's a slug in the butter, but the main thing is the hangings of the small animals.

Witold (maybe it's the writer in him) obsesses about these macabre hangings and keeps a sharp eye on the members of the household, which also includes the neurotic, hysterical and occasionally catatonic Madame Woytis, her husband Leon who bizarrely talks in a makey-uppy language of his own invention, and Catharette, Madame Woytis's housemaid/niece. Catharette has a severe disfigurement of her upper lip, something else which Witold and even Fuchs can't help fixating over. They're an odd bunch...

This arty, beautifully-shot, sometimes farcically funny metaphor of a film is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray courtesy of ARROW FILMS and FETCH PUBLICITY. It comes with a load of excellent special features, including a brief history of the life and work of Witold Gombrowicz and (first pressing only) a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film. Nice one.

If you like arty foreign films that are largely metaphysical in nature, you'll love this, but if you only like movies where cool guys are walking away from explosions without looking at them, may I respectfully suggest you keep scrolling...? Yours always in peace and love, your friendly neighbourhood movie reviewer...!


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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