A quixotic film of tone-poem rhythms about the unquenchable desire for lost love, Jean-Paul Civeyrac’s Through the Forest makes up for its lack of narrative urgency with enveloping, seductive moodiness. Structured into 10 single-take scenes (nine of which boast somewhat gratuitous title cards), the sensually elegiac (and, at 65 minutes, succinct) film conveys the bliss of romantic ardor and the misery of permanent separation, intimately charting the grieving process of Armelle (Camille Berthomier) months after her beau Renaud’s death in a motorcycle accident. As one later learns, the ravishing first scene in which Armelle prances about her bedroom, singing and dancing with a transparent sheet wrapped around her delicate shoulders as Renaud lies in bed, may be a fantasy concocted by the distraught young woman, who is convinced that her deceased boyfriend returns to canoodle from beyond the grave each night. On the advice of her mysticism-believing sister Roxane (Morgane Hainaux) and against the objections of her other, more pragmatic sister Bérénice (Alice Dubuisson), Armelle visits a medium and, after the reading, spies a man named Hippolyte (Aurélien Wiik) who closely resembles Renaud. To describe such plot machinations, however, is to somewhat misconstrue the primary intentions of Through the Forest, which progresses from chapter to chapter (some starkly realistic, some tinged with the supernatural, all choreographed with spiraling pans and zooms) with less concern for rational story development than for concocting a beguiling, cadenced atmosphere of amorous yearning. Awash in close-ups and medium shots which grant an alluring spatial and emotional proximity to its protagonist, and bolstered by two tender serenades (written by Berthomier) in which the alternately smitten and sorrowful Armelle sweetly articulates the depth of her passion, Civeyrac’s magnificent film beautifully captures the rapture and anguish of amour.
- 65 min
- Jean-Paul Civeyrac
- Jean-Paul Civeyrac
- Camille Berthomier, Aurélien Wiik, Alice Dubuisson, Morgane Hainaux, Mireille Roussel
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