02-07-2011

American translation

American Translation
COMPETITON
Dir. Pascal Arnold, Jean-Marc Barr

A youth named Chris drives across France in a van, in which he also lives and sleeps, changing his only two shirts. But those are real party slim line shirts, one is yellow with red and blue flowers, the other is brown with cream stripes. He also suffers from the sweaty smell in his armpits when he happens to strangle someone in the forest. He would rather walk naked, which he gladly does, when the daughter of a wealthy American lets him stay in her apartment after a night of love. Gradually he will disclose and present to her all the constituents of his life: bisexual porn, group sex, laying gay guys and murders. In return he will ask her to marry him and teach him American. He does not understand the lyrics in those energetic songs of revolt and freedom he listens to in his car.

In the post-war French art the image of America as a road along which two young lovers are speeding, loving each other until the police do part them, is even more frequent than in America itself. “L'horloger d'Everton” is just about it and also about America. It was written by Georges Simenon in 1954, 13 years earlier than the American movie “Bonnie and Clyde” and even earlier than the appearance of James Dean. Moreover, it was transferred onto the French rural road in Tavernier’s “L'horloger de Saint-Paul” 20 years after the publication of the novel. The existential awakening experienced by Chris during murders and seductions, which appears again and again in the closing quotes from the studies on the psychology of serial killers, is that very crocodile tail, which cuts him off from the rest of the world, and which the sailor Querelle so happily felt each time he yielded to guys or cut their throats in the 1947 novel by Genet.

The actor Jean-Marc Barr to whom we owe probably the most beautiful male character of the 80s – the deep-sea diver Jacques Mayol in Besson’s “Le grand bleu”, turned to directing on the eve of the Millennium. In collaboration with Pascal Arnold they shot a trilogy about the impossibility of freedom in France (“Lovers”), the USA (“Too Much Flesh”) and India (“Being Light”). They adhered to the “Dogma” technique and worked as artisans, meaning that Arnold wrote scripts, Barr video-recorded and edited and the actors were often mingled with the usual crowd. In their new movie, however provocative it may seem, they are not free of traditions as authors. The 26-year-old Pierre Perrier («Douches froides», «Plein sud») as the protagonist is equally bound by the image of the eternal naked troubadour of sexual ambivalence. He was evidently accepted into the cartel after playing in Barr and Arnold’s “Chacun sa nuit”. In the new film Perrier did not only play the lead but also helped with the make-up and casting.

And there is something else. If something merits to become a tradition, it is exactly what the tradition cannot accept. i.e. the search for the route to freedom through the discovery of the points of freedom in the self-awareness of every unique and inimitable individual. This process is endless and to it the filmmakers made their contribution.

Alexey Vasiliev