The Rest Of The World

The Rest Of The World


Reviewed by: Robert Munro

Beginning as it does with our protagonist Eve (Marie-Eve Nadeau) drinking a cup of steaming coffee (café noir, I’ll bet) and staring into the camera, this film gives the early impression of being a distinctly French expressionist affair but soon fades into a powerful, humane drama on the nature of family dynamics.

Eve and her three sisters have a somewhat fractious relationship with their father and his alcoholic partner – their mother having died some years before. Eve is thrown into trauma early on in the film, when her lover – of whom we see next to nothing – commits suicide abruptly. It is in such times of trauma that one would turn to family for comfort and support, yet instead she finds more problems await her there.

Copy picture

Director Damien Odoul successfully blends a mixture of naturalistic and unobtrusive camerawork with occasional bursts of surreal imagery. Both seem to reflect Eve’s grief-ridden mind; the mundane ‘everydayness’ of existence is often interrupted by a sense of dread and unease, reflected in dream-like images. Most impressive is a vision of Eve lying naked with her newborn child. The baby is upside down, head towards Eve’s feet. It urinates across Eve who remains motionless, inexpressive.

Eve isn’t the only one in the family with hidden traumas. Her sister Judith (Judith Morisseau) finds out that their father might not be hers. A crisis of identity haunts the older sister; Eve’s worries are pulled out of focus. Her father’s lover Katia (Emmanuelle Béart) becomes more and more unstable. She's a violent and nasty drunk who lashes out at the children that are not her own and the father who raised them.

Things come to a head in a dinner scene which is excruciatingly tense in its propensity for violence. In fact, like much of the rest of the film, it brings to mind the work of John Cassavetes and this scene in particular reminds us of that dinner scene in his film A Woman Under the Influence. The unspoken secrets of the family, and their inability to come to terms with them, simmer like the dinner itself, as Judith and Katia clash repeatedly. Katia is to marry their father. Wine is thrown, and soon afterwards the guests are thrown out too.

I bring up Cassavetes because Odoul’s direction and script resemble to the American director's work in their naturalism. The principle actors are able to give performances of great power because they are mostly filmed in close-up, the camera following them around as each scene develops. With this approach, each look or glance, and each moment of silence and reflection, says more than words could articulate.

Despite this similarity, The Rest of the World is no cheap imitation. It has a look and feel of its own, and alongside the organic drama Odoul captures more artificial moments of beauty, such as the dream imagery, which give this a lucidity and strangeness that leave some questions unanswered and others forgotten amidst the wreckage of a family adrift.

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2012
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A grieving woman finds no comfort in turning to her family, whose members all have their own dark secrets.


EIFF 2012

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If you like this, try:

Le Souffle
A Woman Under The Influence