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A Kidnapped Child, Political Trauma & Epic Soap Opera


By Roger Costa


Two incredibly versatile French forces are reunited in this gripping and utterly violent thriller. First, there’s the stylish, profound, visceral perspectives of the great filmmaker Christian Carion, whose “Joyeux Noel” earned an Oscar nod; and then there’s actor Guillaume Canet (who directed the international hit “Tell No One”) infusing rage, adrenaline and complexity to his protagonist, a desperate father trying to rescue his son from kidnappers. Melanie Laurent is the third part of this accomplished work, in the role of the mother blaming herself for the kid’s disappearance. Director Carion builds up a puzzled drama filled with unexpected twists and punctuated by brutality and violence: a man reunites with his ex-wife and her current husband in order to figure out what really happened to the kid, as he’s suddenly gone missing during a camp trip. The sense of unknown permeates the story, as it suggests everyone as a suspect; the estranged father, the exhausted mother, and the jealous stepfather. In the beginning, Carion intrigues the audience, raising the suspicious feeling, as any of them could  have participated in the crime. As the father rages out of control, while being investigated, he goes after answers on his own, driving around the area, facing deadly risks and confronting whomever he suspects, including the stepfather; he is desperate to avenge, capable of doing anything for it: in one shockingly violent scene, he burns a man alive after finding out he’s one of the kidnappers. Highly supported by the incredibly dramatic, edgy performances of Canet and Laurent, this gripping, ultra violent family quest for justice, proves the stylish, vigorous talent of a French master of suspense, who is ready to claim his deserved international recognition. Are you listening Hollywood? (Cohen Media Group. 5/10. Quad Cinemas.)


Chinese master Zhang Yimou returns with another visually-fascinating take on ancestors kingdoms and their battles for power. Yimou (whose initial works about women’s oppression made him an internationally respected filmmaker) had found a new cinematic voice, changing his style completely from arthouse drama to fantastical action war-thrillers. He’s obviously seeking artistic balance, as he still intends to visit the dramatic field in between ancient battles: he just made the poignant “Coming Home” starring his ex-muse and ex-wife Gong Li. After the glorious and award-winning days of last decade’s trilogy “Hero”, “House of Flying Daggers” and “Curse of Golden Flower”, Yimou delves back into the creative imagination of kingdoms war, composing a satisfying, breathtaking production despite its many ups and downs. Focusing on the soon-to-come battle between two rivals, Yimou fills up the screen with romantic intrigue, betrayal and their preparations, until finally comes to the action in the second part. It is mostly a gorgeously crafted, shot and designed production. Its gray, lush, rainy, silvery colors create an astonishing, impeccable visual. Though its unforgettable collection of imagery captures the audience, Yimou demonstrates a lack of interest in the acting coordination(the main actors are currently the most popular celebrities in China) leaving them sort of loose. Despite loads of fake tears and other emotions, they are amazing in the action scenes, and one just can’t look away. The result is a daring, visually-arresting martial arts epic contaminated by a soap opera-like technique, intended to grab larger audiences. (Well Go USA. 5/9. Landmark West 57.)


An impressive account on the horrors and effects left by Spanish dictator Franco on thousands of people, Directors Robert Bahar and Almudena Carracedo’s Berlin Award-winning doc is a powerful statement on seeking righteousness and justice over political traumas. Gathering shocking and heartbreaking testimonies from victims of the regime, experiences with torture, murders, humiliations and vanishing civilians, the film follows a resistance group struggling to re-open the case and punish those responsible for the abusive crimes, giving the audience total access to their battles, including their very personal ones. (Argot Pictures. 5/9. Film Forum.)

Léa Campos: Homenagem às Mães

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