Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Shot in the fashionable neo-realistic style of modern French cinema, Thomas Vincent's directoral debut contains the necessary violence of provincial working-class life, while superimposing a most unlikely love interest. The naturalistic acting style almost convinces, but, ultimately, the story feels too contrived to make proper sense.

A French Arab (Amar Ben Abdallah) intends to leave Dunkirk, after a row with his father, to find work in Marseilles. It is the period of carnival, when men dress in drag, wander the streets, shouting and singing, drunk as skunks, and the women join them, painted like clowns. The Arab becomes involved with the wife (Sylvie Testud) of a docker (Richard Boidin), or rather helps him upstairs when he's too sloshed to stand, and immediately falls head-over-heels for her, after being kissed on the doorstep, as a gesture of gratitude.

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The subsequent vortex of jealousy and rage, followed by more dressing up and drinking, is enhanced by the spirit of carnival, where anything goes. Abdallah is a fine actor and Testud has genuine character, but their brief encounter is frustrated by a script that asks too much of the audience.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Anything goes at the carnival.
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Director: Thomas Vincent

Starring: Amar Ben Abdallah, Sylvie Testud, Richard Boidin, Clovis Cornillac, Dominique Baeyens, JeanPaul Rouve, Thierry Bertein

Year: 1999

Runtime: 88 minutes

Country: France


EIFF 1999

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