Friday, November 26, 2010

In the Beginning (A l'origine) review

A film about building a road to nowhere could just as easily be called The Road to Hell. The French drama In the Beginning (A l'origine), which played last night to a packed cinema as part of the IFI French Film Festival, was truly an exercise in how to take a small story and turn it into a highly watchable thriller,as well as a study of the human need to grasp glimmers of hope in desperate times.

Directed by Xavier Giannoli (The Singer) it tells the story of Philippe/Paul, a conman who travels up and down France scamming equipment from construction sites for re-sale. Small time stuff, really, 'til he gets caught up in a town where highway construction had ceased two years previously because of a beetle infestation. Assuming the name Philippe Miller, he claims to be the project manager for a contractor and sets about restarting the building. The town’s mayor (Emanuelle Devos, luminous and credulous) who tells him that ‘the boss left for India with our subsidies and machines, and we were left with the unemployed’, willingly falls in, desperate to get things moving again.

At the local cheap hotel, chambermaid Monika is a single mum whose feckless boyfriend, Nicolas, needs a job to ‘calm him down’. She is drawn to Philippe and multi-tasks her way around his new project office where she fends off creditors and accepts his promise that wages will come through. Of course it all goes horribly wrong, but not before Philippe totally falls for both the Mayor and his own trick; we see him rally the construction troops through torrential mud and rain, convince a small bank manager that he is for real (don’t think I was the only one wondering why he didn’t just go to Anglo Irish Bank!) and take an interest in Nicolas.

But Philippe’s past catches up with him, in the gargantuan shape of sleazy con, Abel, played by Gerard Depardieu. We know it’s not going to end well as soon as he hoists his leather-jacketed frame into view. Philippe’s mental stability, his newly found love and all about him tumbles into the slithering mud of the motorway.

A terrific film for the Festival that will hopefully get a cinema release.

3 more days of the Festival to go.

Alicia McGivern
Head of Education

In the Beginning (A l'origine) goes on tour with access>CINEMA to Waterford, Galway and Wicklow.

No comments:

Post a Comment