Lucile Hadzihalilovic – La bouche de Jean-Pierre aka Parental Guidance (1996)

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A ten year old girl is received by her aunt because of her mother’s confinement to a mental hospital. But the aunt lives with a man, Jean-Pierre, who seems to be a little too nice with the girl.

“My name is Mimi. My mom took a lot of drugs last night and now she’s all pale and in the hospital. Aunt Solange took me to her apartment. My bed is in a very little closet. At night, I hear a man hurting Solange. His name is Jean-Pierre.

There’s nothing to do at my aunt’s apartment. The apartment is really hot. Jean-Pierre messes with me.nI’m scared he’s going to hurt me like he hurts my aunt at night.

Drugs have many, many colors, there are many to choose from… Maybe if I take them, I can go be with my mom again.”

Quote:
In 1991, following their meeting on a short film made IDHEC, Gaspar Noé and Lucile Hadžihalilović founded the production company “The Cinema Zone.” Evocative title, making reference as well (from the words of Noah) to the famous “Zone” Stalker Tarkovsky (this forbidden place where anything seems possible for those who venture) avowed that these two directors want to produce films with very few resources, about equally broke people still struggling in their daily lives. This company was born first means striking film, Carne, chronic incest butcher Gaspar Noé concocted this year. First test, first shock. A lot of noise around. And it will take three or four years of hard work for Lucile Hadžihalilović in turn passes through the mouth film with Jean-Pierre. Fiction 48 minutes, in reality, was designed from the start as a new short film, but the start of construction radically altered specificities. Turned into a city of Paris for a shoestring budget, with a technical team which was often mixed with that of Alone against all (after Carne, Noah then turned at the same time), and marked by budget problems to have slowed down more than once in production (he has even had the Agnes B. financial assistance to complete the finalization of two films), the film remains a rare UFO importance in the French cinematic landscape, which more invisible and confidential for too long. It is not also a lack of trying: Since its introduction in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes in 1996 (and Very Special Price reaped just after it), it was almost impossible to see the film if we had not taken the time to look at the Cine-Club Nicolas Boukhrief there several years on Canal + (where he was projected as a double feature with Carne). The recent release of the film on DVD in the Badlands editor therefore constituted an event in itself. Impossible to miss.

GASPAR OR LUCILE?

We already knew this gifted filmmaker through the Innocence sublime masterpiece also amazing that the controversial world of childhood and the existential abyss it generates, but since it was a first feature film, it was difficult to pinpoint a specific continuity in the style of the director, we knew closely related to golf Gaspar Noé. After seeing this first test what’s mouth Jean-Pierre, everything seems clear as spring water, and it is not surprising to hear Christophe Gans on the bonus DVD about the difficulty in distinguish between the respective styles of Gaspar Noé and Lucile Hadžihalilović: while the latter film seems to share a lot in common with Carne (even if only in terms of filming, editing and aesthetics) It is vital to remember that this pair of directors has worked in pairs on the two films in question, ensuring that one can vary the technical posts on the film on the other. So, it becomes impossible to distinguish between the two styles, as it is indeed their combination that has enabled to achieve what was too long been recognized as the leg Noah. However, there are also points of difference, and it is now takes longer to find them if the style of Gaspar is more raw and aggressive in his choice of staging as in the impact of editing choices, that of Lucile is more poetic, more melancholy, more gentle. More disturbing, one might say besides, if we judge by the topic (discussed below). And it is equally easy to detect Lucile generally explores the intimate fear of its protagonist (which makes it more intimate than one might believe cinema) when Gaspar tries instead to exacerbate the hatred and anger.

In addition, the choice of colorimetry mark here also a change in continuity with Carne: while the dominant red blood logically dominated in the film Gaspar (centered around a butcher having trouble controlling his incestuous impulses ), the visual tone of the film will be at the intersection of Lucile yellow (reassuring color) and green (worrying color), a pretty good combination that gives the whole a rather unsettling graphic style, as if the film had been soaked in a pool of bile. Finally, the thematic focus of Lucile here for an exclusively female perspective, unlike Gaspar which focuses on male impulses, and most importantly, the epicenter of the key project precisely what will be the title of the next film Lucile innocence. What is this concept really mean? And how far are we innocent, would that in the issue of look? If the film Innocence extend this heavy interrogation by moving in a highly symbolic and more dreamlike setting, the mouth of Jean-Pierre immediately raises the first stones sticking to the coattails of a dismal daily oppressive, if not heavily disaster. It is precisely the staging and photographic choices, themselves, will bring the film to a more fantastic approach is different.

A MISCELLANEOUS transcends DONE

Speaking of “news” about the mouth of Jean-Pierre is also not so exaggerated it: in interviews, Lucile Hadžihalilović explains the origin of the film citing his arrival in Paris, with concrete sets and oppressive, this climate of poverty anything but reassuring, this xenophobic and intolerant atmosphere of a folded over society itself, and most importantly, this kind of social horror that could at any moment fall on someone. Hence the desire to amplify the emotions of the film focusing on a young girl, faced with the fear of being sexually abused by an adult. Note, however, that the subject of pedophilia is more or less in the background, the narrative structure of the story for the film just before diving disturbing child in an adult world she does not know on which it has no control, in which it is not his place, and threatening every moment to swallow.

And as in any news story, horror encrusted unceremoniously from the beginning: a city plunged into the night, the streets deserted corridors of buildings equally grim and empty world, and one of these corridors, screams echo, suggesting a violent argument in one of the apartments. Dumped by her man after the dispute, a woman locks herself in the bathroom and tries to commit suicide by swallowing drugs. Failed attempt, seen from the eyes of Mimi, daughter of a decade. As his mother was placed in the hospital on time of forced rest, Mimi is entrusted temporarily to his aunt Solange. Nothing happy on the horizon it turns manic, obsessive, arrogant and cruel, besides forming with her new lover Jean-Pierre intolerant and xenophobic couple, marked by the fear of strangers and the urge of all control. In this pair, we fuck violently, we watch TV constantly spitting horrible news (murder, incest, pedophilia …), it is unworthy of the idea that one day Turkey join the European community, and sign petitions to evict tenants who are quietly playing Maghreb guitar.

Leave hell to rub another, then. Except that the treatment adopted by the slice director immediately with pure realism. It does not take long to notice, besides the visual choices that we evoked earlier, the narrative adopts an evolutionary pattern similar to that of storytelling, where each scene marks a progression accentuated towards the abominable and each character becomes the representation of a symbolic figure. Here, the girl is the epitome of innocence in danger, the mother alone reflects the infantile trauma of the possible loss of the mother figure (after the opening scene, it appears that in dreamlike scenes and enigmatic outputs the spirit of Mimi), aunt almost plays the role of the evil stepmother who bears an almost subliminal threat on its new offspring, and lover of this assumes that easily to a possible Grand Bad Wolf, the one through whom the fear and anxiety will feed the heart of the spirit of his potential victim. One of the scenes in the film is also very clear on this point: a fixed plane on the most famous moment of the tale by Charles Perrault (the one where the wolf reveals its true nature hidden in the bed of the grandmother) Mimi bed in bed, immediately followed by a wide shot where the phone rang, with Jean-Pierre on the other end of the wire. All is said: the tale that his diabolical mechanical anchor in reality, the installation of a visceral fear that has its source in the imagination, the daily crumbling to open the door to an abyss of childish fears. Yet nothing seems to highlight, nothing is explicit. The strength of the film is just basing his entire narrative progression of a triple system of illustration: the unspoken aroused by a scene a priori trivial (and not just that which is evoked), the implied revealed by Mounting options and the gradual rise of the voltage by a frame which appears to be increasingly tighten around its heroin.

A STAGED “POLANSKIENNE”

Guests sleep in a corner of the entrance like an animal and sometimes briefly put on the landing grounds stupid door, Mimi does not take long to feed an increasingly terrible anxiety vis-à-vis this unhealthy world undergoes its daily daily with brutal images that invade her cortex, and can not find the strength to sleep thinking about Jean-Pierre, especially in ambiguous look that it seems to pose on it. Some shots of the film playing on the status change that seems to have the young heroine. One could cite the following silent and symmetrical plans in Kubrick, sometimes on the sleeping face of Mimi, sometimes on the sleeping face of his mother, which leads to a dozen possible interpretations. Unhealthy omen that the girl will end soon as his mother? Reassuring presence of the mother who watches over her offspring? Simple dream that tends to reassure the girl? Or, as evidenced by some “Mimi!” Spewed by the mother from his hospital bed, would it be a deceased mother called her daughter from beyond asking him to join? Anything is possible, but it tends to focus almost assuming a mental drift, combined with moments adults facing it (for example, she watches the aggressive sexuality shown by his two guests and undergoes daily hardness character) generates a real disorder in her perceptions. This disorder born of fear, if not paranoia, felt once more through a mischievous and devilishly developed cutting.

In these moments, the parallel that could possibly draw the film Roman Polanski (Repulsion and The Tenant especially) becomes fairly obvious: while the Polish director is a little more explicit in its commitment to its mounting let overflow paranoia of its protagonist to embody literally staging and decor (remember human arm assailed the walls of the apartment Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion), but Lucile Hadžihalilović played on a subjectivity more equivocal, doing everything pass through the prism of his heroine who sees all, who watches everything that undergoes all, but never is. This monolithic figure of a child confronted with an environment that is not hers proves yet very polanskienne in this way reveal the potentially morbid fascination and erotic a girl in a scary part. This fascination helps make the movie very disturbing, especially when the camera records the exchange of eyes. That of the bathroom, where Jean-Pierre falls on Mimi taking a shower, is a striking example. And again, this kind of scene only accentuates drift becoming stronger towards the key scene of the film: a single sofa where the threat of pedophile act seems poised to accomplish (it will eventually be the case). It is useless to fear the worst at the idea of ​​filming such a scene, the way the director succeeds in staging is an honesty and simplicity that commands respect model: a stage, a single fixed plan, no installation, no cutting, no ellipse. The viewer follows the course of the scene in real time, but the rigidity of the frame and the stretching of the time put it in a position of failure to respond, as blocked by a tinted glass that could symbolize the camera. By way of comparison, Gaspar Noé used the same process for the horrific rape scene in Irreversible: the camera remained in the face of Monica Bellucci (frozen in the center of the vertical plane) and was content to marry her every movements, which created automatically empathize with his character and thus annihilating any fear of a voyeur and obscene assembly.

We may also mention Polanski on this idea to accentuate the claustrophobia of the place by the frame and the soundscape. On the first point, the use of 2.66 format much more stretched than the Scope and already used in Carne, proves quite justified: instead of more open frame power to broaden the horizontal, it helps On the contrary, in the context of a closed like this, to multiply the feeling of confinement, choking, that also highlights a very clever play on the placement of the camera in the doorway of a closed door or on the ability of the latter to enter an action in a space defined by the corners. It is the same for almost fetishistic use of close-ups of body parts (eye, a mouth, an ear, a hand …), sort of reminiscent of the Italian giallo which also constitute a huge influence on the Working tandem Cattet / Forzani for their amazing first film Amer, which again serves to isolate specific emotions (fear, always fear) in a purely graphical object. Though not completely, if we judge by the use of close-ups on the attempted suicide of the mother (Mimi’s eye, the mouth of the mother swallow tablets) to be taken and when final loophole Mimi, it reproduces by mimicry desperate gesture of her mother to get out of this hell. Crucial scene that brings the story to its starting point, linking the fate of the girl to her mother (which therefore justifies the symmetry planes we mentioned earlier) and endorsing the idea of ​​a story about pedophilia primarily as a component of the story but in any case as its nerve center.

On the second point, the sound film work confined almost total stunning: his opening credits, where sound very threatening stretches to leave to set in very everyday sounds to a sound environment that ( ab) use real sounds (distant cries, fridge noise, door slamming, drops of water slowly flows from the tap, etc …), the mood of the film tends toward abstraction strength to isolate that a priori elements without much interest, by adding, reveal a concern, a haunting rhythm, a daily confinement and repetition where you never seem able to extract. Only the effects of the “boom” in addition to the appearance of the film’s title, the word “End” or both boxes “France today” and “Morality” (cartons with the Gaspar Noé use here is a little awkward), are added a little piece on the soundtrack without having a real necessity. A little bad taste, then, as in all first films.
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Language(s):French
Subtitles:English

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