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Published January 28th 2013
Directed by Jean-Baptiste Léonetti. Written by Jean-Baptiste Léonetti. Starring Sami Bouajila, Julie Gayet, Jean-Pierre Andréani, Carlos Leal, Dominique Paturel, Majid Hives, Fejria Deliba etc. Country: France, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Belgium Language: French
I saw this film in 2012 at the Melbourne International Film Festival. I am always amazed at how the genre of sci-fi is completely redefined when made by a "foreign" (for lack of a better word) country.
Carré Blanc is a dystopian sci-fi film set in a highly controlled future where positive emotions seem to no longer exist. The film revolves around one charater, Phillippe. We see him as a boy having to deal with the suicide of his mother, being sent to a boarding school where violence is encouraged, and then later as a grown man working at a job that involve tormenting and humiliating prospective employees.
Despite his trauma from his childhood he has prospered in this caste system society with a respected job and a good wife. Throughout the movie, unnerving announcements to "get pregnant now" and congratulations by name to new mothers are constantly heard from loudspeakers everywhere. The themes were not unlike modern society, utilizing fear and empowerment as a means of control.
In terms of plot, there isn't too much going on. The movie instead focuses on subtleties to provide interest and intrigue to the viewer; details like the ominous company logo, which is found on body bags and food packaging, the lack of trees and animals, the absence of any real positive emotions or connectedness between people, and Phillippe's mother and wife's mention of "monsters".
The whole film is also shot incredibly well. Most of the scenes are virtually still images with stark contrasts reminiscent of classic film-noir. The lighting and extended camera shots enhance the overwhelming despair and uselessness of the populous. The very
minimal electronic "music", or rather tones, add to the alienation. There isn't a great deal of dialogue; nevertheless, the acting is nicely controlled and delicate. The two lead characters, Sami Bouajila and Julie Gayet, hold their bleak emotions well. Even young Phillippe, played by newcomer Majid Hives, oozes schoolboy detachment like a true deluded teen.
Carré Blanc overall I thought was complex and incredibly fascinating. It reminded me of the hopelessness in films like THX 1138, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brazil and Fahrenheit 451. A lot of things didn't seem to be fully explained but that just added to its stark mysteriousness. Despite the film's slow going pace, I thought it was more about the feel and disconnection the film was trying to convey of the future. It was like a glimpse into a dystopia but just watching it wasn't enough, the director, Jean-Baptiste Leonetti, wanted the audience to feel the isolation.
I enjoyed the film but I wouldn't recommend it to people who like simple movies and need constant stimulation. I'd give it a 6.5 out of 10.