Monday, 29 December 2014

Review - Écoute le Temps (2006 - Dir. Alanté Kavaïté)

In the second semi-final of the FA Cup of Actors the young challenger Émilie Dequenne faces off against screen legend James Stewart. Who will come out on top?

Being a native French speaker I can easily translate the title without even the sneekiest of peeks at a English/French dictionary. Cut the Temperature is a biopic focussing on the early disastrous cake baking attempts of Mary Berry. Burning sweet food products is her speciality until an evil hunchbacked Cornish Pisky makes a deal with her: Mary's cakes will be perfectly cooked and to be generous, he will even throw in the ability to knock up gorgeous salad dressings. The downside is that Mary has to suffer with a permanently itchy bumhole. (Watch her on 'The Great British Bake Off', she's forever having a crafty scratch. Possibly.)

I think that the DVD distributor must have put the wrong disc into my box because the film I watched was very different to the above, more to do with listening to time. (Don't know where they got that from?) But despite the lack of Mary Berry this is actually a pretty ingenious film.

Charlotte's (Émilie Dequenne) mum - rumour has it in the local village community that she was a witch - has been murdered and Charlotte moves back into her old house to investigate. Everyone in the village is a suspect. Being a sound recordist, Charlottes starts to record the creaking in the dilapidated house. Imagine her surprise when the recordings turn out to be conversations that happened in the past - hence the listening to time thingy. Examining these conversations, Charlotte starts to piece together what has happened to her mum.

The cover had me interested from the start, looking like something from a bank heist or spy thriller. The criss-crossing threads have an altogether more interesting use linked to the time travelling sounds. As with Peacock it has made a pleasant change to watch a film that tries something different.

Despite the engaging premise this film never hits the viewer with a startling twist or a stunning revelation. Charlotte just plods along finding clue after clue until she works out who the cheeky murderer is. No thrilling finale to be had here.

This isn't one of Dequenne's finest performances but it's by no means bad. It's very solid within the parameters of the script. But the lack of anything of real quality happening within the final third could have left an opening for James Stewart. If Vertigo or Anatomy of a Murder comes up for him, it's goodbye to the competition favourite Émilie Dequenne.

If you like this you could also try:
White Noise, The Pack.

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