Olivier Meyrou may keep his distance from his subjects, but staying out of their way doesn’t mean losing sight of their troubles. His approach is deliberately poetic, eschewing direct-camera address for a more radical diffusion of information. In Reims, he lingers often, and at great length, on a sad little section of park, where it becomes clear that a gay man lost his life after being beaten and thrown into a river by three skinheads. Beginning “730 days later” after this yet undisclosed murder, Beyond Hatred arrives at essential truths about suffering and loss through abstract means. Meyrou, whose approach may also be called fly-on-the-wall, resists interfering with the process with which François Chenu’s family heals and prepares for the trial of their eldest son’s killers. At a coffee shop, François’s sister relives the day she told her parents about her brother’s death, and there is a sense that Meyrou stumbled across their frank exchange as if by accident. (Had the camera pointed in a different direction, what would Meyrou have learned about the man freely, almost nervously fumbling his paper in the background?) Mother corrects daughter about the words that came out of the young woman’s mouth the day she came to her parents with the bad news—with a hint of bitterness that suggests resentment for not having learned of her son’s death first or, more likely, an attempt to compensate for the fact that she will never know the full extent of what her son suffered during the last five minutes (or, rather, 300 seconds) of his life. Her pain is not out of the ordinary, but Meyrou elevates it to an almost sacred place with bold snippets of symphonic music, but only when mother and father are lost in silence. Meyrou’s novel approach never grows thin, but it loses its affect when the attention shifts away from the grief of the family and toward the legalese of the case, only to restore itself with a stunning closer that is a testament to the power of forgiveness.
- First Run Features
- 85 min
- Olivier Meyrou
- Olivier Meyrou
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