À Tout de Suite (7/10)

by Tony Medley

This is a strange, but intriguing homage to the New Wave. Lili (Isild Le Besco) is an 18-year old bad seed, bi-sexual selfish Parisian artist daughter of middle class French parents, whom we rarely see. She gets the hots for Bada (Ouassini Embarek, a Morrocan she meets in a bar. She immediately takes him home, sneaks him into her room, and beds him. Later he calls her and says he’s involved in a bank robbery-murder, so naturally she helps him and takes off with him and his compatriots to North Africa and Greece running away from the long arm of the law.

Young Ms. Le Besco is not shy about showing her ample body to the world and we get to see quite a bit of it. What we don’t get is much dialogue, and no music. The lack of dialogue is a blessing because when we do get it, the white subtitles often blend in with white background, so it’s difficult to see what they’re saying. Director-writer Benoît Jacquot shot it in black and white because it’s based on a true story that took place in the ‘70s. He throws in a few newsreel shots from the ‘70s that are in black and white, but that’s not a good enough reason to eschew color. I would have liked to have seen Le Besco’s body in glorious Technicolor.

The lack of music is a good idea because it emphasizes the depressing nature of the film. Normally I would have thought this terminally slow, but Jacquot has a deft touch for keeping the interest up throughout the 96-minute running time. Unlike the recently released “Layer Cake,” which was a highly disappointing attempt to study the criminal world, this story is simple and easy to follow. Not for everyone, this is an interesting glimpse at a slice of the criminal life. In French with subtitles.

May 29, 2005