Provenance

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Provenance
"There's a touch of Claude Chabrol's psychological unease at work in this debut from debut director Ben Hecking" | Photo: © White Horse Films Ltd, 2017

The setting has the small town sleepy feel of A Year In Provence - an idea that recent Brit ex-pat and concert pianist John Finch (Christain McKay) has bought into, with his morning constitutional to the local cafe for espresso and croissant and his jaunty "Bonjour" to the rheumy-eyed locals he passes each day.

He has a cottage on the edge of Entrecasteaux, a place filled with memories of summers gone by and where he has installed himself to lick his wounds after the failure of his marriage and dream of lovers past and present.

Copy picture

There's a touch of Claude Chabrol's psychological unease at work in this debut from debut director Ben Hecking, who takes his time to set up the drivers of his film, including an encounter with a young British tourist (Harry Mcqueen) and the arrival of John's much younger lover Sophia (Charlotte Vega).

The director - who pulls double duty as the film's cinematographer - wants us to see Sophia as John sees her, capturing her mannerisms as she tosses back her hair or chews her finger coquettishly in the summer sunlight. He also makes the most of the French setting, with an eye for framing that emphasises some of the unusual colours found there, like purple and lilac. Beyond the look of the film, Hecking has an aptitude for elision, which allows him to reveal moments from Sophia and John's past - including how they met - without losing focus on the here and now. The film may be minimalist but Hecking uses the tensions generated by such a small cast to his advantage.

This is a sedately paced film and one which you have to relax into and though you may guess at what's coming - not least because Hecking gives you such a lot of time to do so - intense performances from McKay and Vega hold the attention. Once or twice the director runs things a bit close to parody - the film could have lived with at least one less gauzily remembered sexual encounter, for example - but he has a good ear for dialogue as small frictions begin to reveal themselves. This is, after all, a hot summer in Provenance, a place where things can go from ripe to rotten surprisingly swiftly.

Reviewed on: 21 Jul 2020
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A classical musician flees to Provence to start a new life with his young lover, only for a mysterious stranger to threaten his new-found happiness.

Director: Ben Hecking

Writer: Ben Hecking

Starring: Charlotte Vega, Christian McKay, Harry Macqueen, Chereene Allen, Ludivine Parra, Luke Beattie

Year: 2017

Runtime: 97 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

EastEnd 2017

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