|The Cold Lands
Les Terres Froides
dir Sebastien Lifshitz
scr Stephane Bouquet, Sebastien Lifshitz
with Yasmine Belmadi, Bernard Verley, Valerie Donzelli, Sebastien Charles, Florence Giorgetti, Fattouma Ousliha Bouamari, Ivan Sollogoff, Eric Savin, Thierry Levaret, Daniel Isoppo, Michel Olives, Nozha Khouadra
release UK Mar.01 llgff
With an easygoing style and a building sense of dread, Lifshitz's rather short feature is an effective examination of a very serious identity crisis. Djamel (Belmadi) is a rootless 20-year-old. His mother is dead, and after a fight with his grandmother he heads off to Grenoble, in the snowy Alps. He seems completely disaffected and aimless, but as he gets a job in a local factory, we soon realise there's a purpose for his being here. He starts stalking the company director (Verley), flirting with his secretary (Donzelli) and keeping an eye on his son (Charles). All of these people contribute to his crisis--who he is really, where he belongs, who cares for him. And it gets increasingly creepy as we start to figure out what he's up to.
Lifshitz shows considerable skill both technically and thematically--the film is impeccably produced, shot in a clever, polished style that invites us into its rather gruelling story. And even if it's a bit dull, the characters have energy and wit that keep us interested (Belmadi and Donzelli are especially good). Then the revelations start dropping all over the place as Djamel discovers things about himself, who he is and where he comes from. And it builds to a sudden, chilling conclusion that leaves us shaken, even if it's not entirely convincing. But what a terrific calling card for the gifted Lifshitz.