Isabelle (Sophie Quinton) is a nursing student at a prestigious hospital whose curriculum includes advice on how to tell families their loved ones have croaked (“gone” and “left us” isn’t quite straight to the point). It’s there that she meets the sexy but sinister Dr. Philip (Laurent Lucas), who starts calling her Bambi because she has problems keeping her balance (due to a malformation in her right ear, for which an operation is performed). Isabelle comes to believe that he may be raping female patients while they sleep and watering down the hospital’s Pentothal supply and letting nurses take the rap when patients wake up during surgery. Director Gilles Marchand implicates the man early on, and as such the thrill of the incredibly shot and unnervingly paced Who Killed Bambi? is derived not from petty plot points and narrative twists but the mind-fuck between Isabelle and Dr. Phil. Only once is the cartoon Bambi actively engaged, but the deer’s presence is clearly felt throughout, not just in Quinton’s deer-caught-in-headlights expression. A patient disappears at night (when the hospital is seemingly and inexplicably unstaffed—but that’s neither here nor there) and the nurses reason that she must have walked out on her own. By having Philip commit his transgressions off screen, Marchand in essence questions the reality of the man’s culpability and everyone’s emotional connection to those crimes. It’s obvious from the start that Marchand is using the death of Bambi’s mother as a point of departure for a study on postmodern violence in cinema. But while Marchand seems to have studied the shit out of Disney’s Bambi, incorporating notions of responsibility, submission, and loneliness associated with the death of the deer’s mother into Philip’s agenda against Isabelle and women in general, in the end his film feels like an abstract dissertation with no real discernable point, perhaps because Dr. Phil—not unlike the gunman who shoots Bambi’s mom—remains a cipher throughout.
- Strand Releasing
- 126 min
- Gilles Marchand
- Vincent Dietschy, Gilles Marchand
- Sophie Quinton, Laurent Lucas, Catherine Jacob, Yasmine Belmadi, Michèle Moretti, Valérie Donzelli, Jean-Claude Jay, Aladin Reibel, Thierry Bosc, Lucia Sanchez, Fily Keita, Sophie Medina
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: