Wednesday, October 22, 2008

LFF: Ties That Bind

Still from Everybody Dies But MeAh, the agonies of youth. In Dying or Feeling Better (dir Laurence Ferreira Barbosa), Martial is a sulky French teen who has just moved to a new town with his newly single mother. A loner, he finds it difficult to fit in but becomes fascinated with a set of twins who are also outsiders. Falling in with them, he becomes embroiled in a series of power games that escalates to extreme danger. Quite a well-made film, even if the finger of blame seems to point at Martial's distracted mother (Florence Thomassin) for failing to keep him in check, as if she didn't have enough on her mind.

In 57000 Km Between Us, Florence Thomassin appears again as a flaky mother struggling to keep control of her family, especially her video-obsessed boyfriend and young daughter Nat. Here lives lived online provide a respite from the banality of reality. But it is Nat who recognises the dangers of living a virtual life well before her mother. Writer/director Delphine Kreuter has a sharp eye for detail and the film is a critique of the disconnectedness of modern living, in which people are more concerned about the number of hits on their websites than about the actual people in their lives. Kudos, too, for the depiction of a plethora of relationships, between adults and children and various genders.

The mutual incomprehensibility of parents and children comes under the spotlight in Everybody Dies But Me (dir Valeria Gai-Germanika), in which three Russian girls (see pic) risk everything to attend the school disco. What starts as a semi-comic slice of teen life quickly toughens into an exploration of conflicting loyalties, betrayal and self-destructive tendencies, as lived by teenaged girls. Grim but gripping.

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