Monday, 24 June 2013

EIFF: Paris Countdown (Le Jour Attendra)

Traditionally, Parisian cinema falls easily into one of two categories. You have the quirky, off the path films that warm your heart, and those that are incomprehensible, falling over themselves trying to be cool. Luckily, Parisian Countdown (or Le Jour attendra) falls into neither of these.

The film follows old friend Milan (Olivier Marchal) and Victor (Jaques Gamblin) as they try to navigate their way through a world they supposedly left behind years ago, after betraying a vengeful psychopath. Reunited once more, they’re left to near desperate damage control as events spiral beyond their control, and the question becomes simply how long can their fractured friendship take the strain?

The plot of the movie might sound familiar, but we had a pleasant surprise in store. This isn’t your run of the mill mid-life crisis film – these are men who are now cut adrift in the world that brought them everything they have now. Add to that a soundtrack that should have mass appeal, an impressively authentic feeling club scene, and a final scene sharp enough to lift the film above the rest of its genre.

The performances from the two lead actors are outstanding, bringing to life the dry humour which characterises the film. The chemistry between Marchal and Gamblin is enough to convince the audience that they are in fact long time friends, with the characteristic backbiting and familiarity that’s born from any kind of long term relationship. Our favourite one liner (of which there were many) had to be the wonderful “Japanese culture is too subtle for you.”

The film is subtitled, performed in the original French, and it’s all the better for it. We believe that there are some subtleties of language that English can’t quite capture, and let’s face it – insults always sound far better in French.

The setting is of course the city of love itself, and we’re struggling to think of a time the streets and the Seine were put to better use. Never overshadowing the performances of the actors, the picturesque scenery was the perfect foil to the gritty feel of the story.

Brutal at points, touching at others, and never failing to entertain, Paris Countdown uses the city as an effective backdrop to what is essentially a story of the hold old ties have over us all.