Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 15, 2015

There are strong echoes of Nicholas Ray’s celebrated On Dangerous Ground (1951) here. There’s savagery in the city, and the country isn’t altogether free of it. either. But there’s a clarity or simplicity there—collecting those apples, cutting that wood—that just might allow for a bit of decent happiness. That’s a sincere, even ardent part of this film, but the message is pretty compromised by an old problem. Naturalism is one thing, but degradation is a whole ‘nother. These two female characters are clearly salvific. So why do these male characters put them through what they put them through? Even worse, why does the film/maker?

It’s not that this kind of material—am I being vague enough for you?—should be absolutely out of bounds. In the irreproachable Robert Bresson’s “Balthazar” and Mouchette for instance there are hints, and we get the idea, and the idea is an important one. But when hints become agonizingly explicit (the client, the kitchen) then here comes the whirlwind. Cf. Amy Robinson in Mean Streets, or even Kubrick ’71.

Having said that, these female characters! I guess you could argue that saviours get scourged. There’s a scorched smell to the whole thing, but in this kind of Scorcese-ian (Haneke-ian?) universe is still a tinge of the transcendent in that. Not much to go on, or hope for!

Our protagonist is a very interesting cat. His caper and its aftermath are quite heartbreaking, the cruel unnecessity or absurdity being mitigated by some sense, again, of pre-existing, transcending tenderness.