CINEMANIA: Ma Loute (Slack Bay, France, 2016)

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for Cinetalk.net

The ways of Bruno Dumont have never been easy. He came up, since the end of 1990’s, with some unsettling gruesome dramas that were sometimes received with hostility. Just think of the 50th Cannes Film Festival scandal when David Cronenberg’s jury gave  three prizes to his overlooked Humanité.

Dumont’s new film, Ma Loute, is a highly enjoyable (and of course unsettling) comedy that doesn’t really make sense if not from the view point lying within the own folklore it creates.

Summer 1910 in Pas-de-Calais, France. Inspectors Machin and Malfoy, a cross between Tintin’s Dupont & Dupont, Laurel & Hardy and Dumont’s own inspector De Winter (from Humanité), investigate the vanishing of several tourists including members of the strange Bréfort bourgeois family and the local fishermen.

Ma Loute sounds and look like a parody of French Cinema clichés, especially the dinner sequences with people tearing each other apart. It is a  satire with reminders of Luis Bunuel and Raoul Ruiz. If it could have gained from being trimmed a little, as it is overlong at two hours, it is nevertheless providing widescreen framed surrealists portraits and situations contributing to a an overall loony atmosphere. The carefully reworked sound effects and design also provide their own dose of funny material.

Surrounded by very interesting non-professionals, veteran actors Fabrice Luchine and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi seem to enjoy deliberately overplaying their impossible characters (it seems more difficult in Juliette Binoche’s case). Didier Després, as inspector Alfred Machin, provides a good laugh and one new comer, actress Raph, offers such a strong instinctive presence and exclusive grace that we can’t wait to see her again on the big screen.

Cinemania showings:

05 nov + 12 nov
Cinéma Impérial

https://www.festivalcinemania.com/fr/film/ma-loute

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