Endangered Species |ESPÈCES MENACÉES (2017) | Venice Film Festival 2017
Dir: Gilles Bourdos | France, Belgium / 105’ | cast: Alice Isaaz, Vincent Rottiers, Grégory Gadebois, Suzanne Clément
Gilles Bourdos’ interlocking trio of stories from American writer Richard Bausch is strangely unengaging despite the colourful antics of its central character Josephine, gamely played here by Alice Isaaz.
After his sumptuous but flaccid biopic drama Renoir French director Gilles Bourdos travels to the Riviera for his latest offering, the vividly shot but narratively over-ambitious and uneven Endangered (Doomed) Species where Josephine is variously beset by difficult characters in her life: a macho tree-surgeon husband; a difficult new neighbour and his pregnant daughter; her future husband and his PhD student whose mother is finally institutionalised.
The first two stories unfurl prodigiously showcasing Josephine’s fraught wedding night with tattooed groom Tomas (Vincent Rottiers from Renoir) ending in tears for the bride, not auguring well for their future and echoing the doomed relationship of her parents (Gregory Gadebois, Suzanne Clement). The second sequence features an incendiary phone call between the pregnant Melanie (Alice de Lenquesaing) and her father, Vincent (Eric Elmosnino) telling him of her putative marriage to a man (Carlo Brandt) nearly forty years her senior, while his news of divorce pales into insignificance in the process. The third and weakest story features Damien Chappelle’s Anthony (who is also a student of Melanie’s father’s baby) and his deranged mother Nicole (Brigitte Catillon).
Bourdos aims to explore the dynamics, pressures and loyalties of family and how ‘sins of the father’ infect future generations, but in doing so some of his characters are not as fully fleshed out as the others, particularly those of Melanie and her partner and Anthony and his difficult love life. The overbearing score often threatens to dominate a film gorgeously captured and vivaviously realised in its ravishing Riviera locations making this an occasionally enjoyable watch despite its drawbacks. MT
VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 30 August – 9 SEPTEMBER 2017