When the Sea Rises

When the Sea Rises

2.5 out of 52.5 out of 52.5 out of 52.5 out of 5 2.5

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A quirky ode to transient romance and a showbizer’s life on the road, Yolande Moreau and Gilles Porte’s When the Sea Rises takes as its inspiration Moreau’s own experiences as a traveling comedienne in the 1980s for its narrative about a nomadic performer named Irène (Moreau) who falls into a tender relationship with a parade float operator named Dries (Wim Willaert). Journeying from one quaint northern French town to another to perform at retirement homes, comedy festivals, and night clubs, and with most every night spent in drab hotel rooms discussing mundane house furnishing details over the phone with her rarely seen husband, Irène is a lonely introvert whose playful, humorous side only comes through when on stage performing her one-woman show “A Dangerous Crime” (based on Moreau’s own real-life act). Adorned in an unflattering striped dress and a papier-mâché mask, Irène’s routine revolves around a criminal character who, midway through, invites a male audience member on stage to be her right-hand “chicken,” a custom that leads to an affair after—having been rescued from her broken-down car by Dries earlier in the day—she includes him in the show and, afterwards, goes out drinking with him and his friends. Lackadaisically whimsical, Moreau and Porte’s film depicts the couple’s budding relationship as an instance of emotional neediness jointly fulfilled, with Irène’s cautious desire for companionship a perfect fit for the persistent Dries’s refusal to squander this (seemingly rare) opportunity for love. That Irène’s marriage remains, throughout their courtship, the elephant in the room lends the tale a bittersweet melancholy. Yet in the breezy, unaffected rapport of Irène and Dries—two people coming out of their (costume-encased) shells—the film locates the minor grace to be found in like-minded souls briefly encountering each other along their respective solitary paths through life. And in the directors’ affection for their unpretentious, independently minded small-town milieu (and its inhabitants), When the Sea Rises’ story of lovelorn loners becomes infused with an atmosphere of genial, humanistic warmth.

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DVD
Distributor
New Yorker Films
Runtime
89 min
Rating
NR
Year
2004
Director
Yolande Moreau, Gilles Porte
Screenwriter
Yolande Moreau, Gilles Porte
Cast
Yolande Moreau, Wim Willaert, Olivier Gourmet, Jan Hammenecker, Vincent Mahieu, Jackie Berroyer