A nameless man appears in a small farm town on the northern French coast, spending his days wandering the fields and praying. In the following months, he finds an acolyte in a sulky young woman, commits murder, and has violent sex with a random traveler. That's about it for the story of this 2011 French drama, which evokes the Old Testament in its opaque simplicity, and Bruno Dumont's commanding, atheistic style—rooted in purposely empty wide-screen vistas and the inexpressive faces of his nonactors—doesn't offer many clues as to its meaning. As with L'Humanité
(1999), Dumont wants to give epic form to the longing for spirituality in a despiritualized world. I find the movie mind-blowing, though it will likely alienate as many viewers as it impresses. In French with subtitles.
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Bruno Dumont's drama promises to alienate as many viewers as it impresses.
Gene Siskel Film Center's epic international fest concludes this week