Eye For Film >> Movies >> Peau Neuve (1999) Film Review
Reviewed by: Trinity
Alain, a Parisian in his mid-thirties, seems to have a good life. He's happily married, has a four-year-old daughter he adores and tests computer games for a living. But something is not quite right in his life and he makes a snap decision to quit his job and enrol on a heavy machinery operating course. Along with his fellow trainees, Alain learns how to operate bulldozers and diggers, his previous experience helping him to quickly pick up the necessary skills.
Life is not as easy for Manu, a fellow trainee he befriends, who has always dreamt of operating these machines, but is finding reality more difficult. Even Alain is having problems as the long weeks away from his family take their toll. As the course goes on, he finds himself drowning in loneliness and uncertainty. Only his friendship with Manu helps him through the course.
Director Emilie Deleuze has tried to tell the tale of an ordinary man and the relationships which affect him. More than this, she tries to look at the child which lies in the heart of every grown man. Alain (played by Samuel Le Bihan, who looks uncannily like Daniel Autueil) shows his emotions subtly, in his actions and expressions, and the transition he undergoes through the film is one of its high points. Through him we see the strain of his relationship with his wife, and the patience of trying to be a surrogate father figure to Manu.
Unfortunately, it's still very difficult to get away from the fact that this is a film primarily about bulldozers. By focusing so much of Peau Neuve on scenes showing the men's struggle to achieve dominance over the machines, Deleuze has inevitably turned it into a rather unoriginal bonding and "overcoming the obstacles" film. There's even a reasonable set of stereotypical characters. If she had concentrated more on the relationship between Alain and his family, she might have succeeded in producing something special - as it is, only occasional glimpses of brilliance remain.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001