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Sombre (1998)

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A car, following the Tour de France. Children screaming in front of the puppet show. Women, often prostitutes, trying to scream as they are being strangled. Then he will meet Claire, the ... See full summary »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marc Barbé ...
Elina Löwensohn ...
Géraldine Voillat ...
Coralie ...
La première femme
Maxime Mazzolini ...
L'enfant aux yeux bandés
Alexandra Noël ...
La seconde femme
Annick Lemonnier ...
La troisième femme
Sadija Sada Sarcevic ...
La mère de Claire
Lea Civello ...
Fille de la boîte de nuit 1
Astrid Combes ...
Fille de la boîte de nuit 2
Sylvie Granato ...
La quatrième femme
Tony Baillargeat ...
Homme du bal 2
Marc Berman ...
Homme du bal 1
Martine Vandeville ...
La femme du HLM
Antoine Debilly ...
L'enfant du HLM


A car, following the Tour de France. Children screaming in front of the puppet show. Women, often prostitutes, trying to scream as they are being strangled. Then he will meet Claire, the virgin who will give herself to him, and perhaps deliver him from his malediction. Written by Gregoire Dubost <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Horror

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 January 1999 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Dunkle Triebe  »

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User Reviews

Sombre: morality not included
10 November 1999 | by (Amsterdam) – See all my reviews

Tonight 'Sombre' premiered in the Netherlands. Present in the audience was the director of Sombre, mr. Philippe Grandrieux. He is known mostly as a maker of documentaries and videos, and it shows in Sombre, his first movie. Shaking camera's (he told the audience he shot most of the footage with a 35mm camera (about 24 kilo's heavy, that's gotta hurt at the end of the day), extreme close-ups and experiments with dark and light. It absolutely complements the story.

About the story. It tells the story of Jean (Marc Barbé), a man that has many sexual encounters with women, but ends up killing them. Why, we do not know. I think he tries to love women, but at the end his lust takes over and controls him. After a couple encounters he meets a woman played by Elina Lowensohn. Apparantly she's something else. She also has a history she's not completely happy with (why we don't know) and she joins Jean with her sister. It doesn't take long before Jean tries to rape and kill the sisters. They escape. But apparently she is somehow touched by Jean, a touch she can't forget (a romantic vision about love, says Grandrieux). She goes back to him. They have sex but at the end Jean drives her away. He can't be with her, because for the first (in the movie) time he experiences love, but he still can't control his lust and she can't be with him because she might end up being dead. Oh bitter irony...The movie ends with spectators of the Tour de France, a metaphor for reality watching this morbid fairy tale. And it is a bit of a fairy tale. Jean is a puppet player. He does a show in front of crowd of children (one of the best scenes in the film). He plays the wolf, the Beast! Eline plays the Beauty ( at the end of the film, I have my doubts about that, but anyway...).

It's a difficult movie! Grandrieux tells us that one of his main influences is the silent movie. Silent movies have spots on the film, the cuts are clearly visible, it's rough, 'it stays in the ears, even when you can't hear the sound'. And Sombre is rough and dirty. In some scenes you can almost touch objects, for example hair or a woman's thy. Other scenes are very serene and still, but you still feel the objects. Grandrieux tells us that he want to make the audience edit the movie realtime. And that was exactly what I did. You need some imagination with this picture, you have to fill in the blanks, because not much information and dialogue is given to you. What Grandriex achieves with this, is a connection between the audience and the film. 'Edit the movie the same time you are watching it'. Man, you gotta love that one.

Still, I would liked to have some more info on the characters and their history. I liked to know what makes them do the things they do. Now they are just doing them. And with almost no moral in it. There are some scenes where the theme hope is explored, but you got to dig deep. That results in dividing the audience in two teams. You either like it or you hate it. One more thing, the music. The music by Alan Vega is excellent.

See this movie, make your own story of it and make your own conclusions. Sombre is good material for the eyes and ears and the mind. Phillipe Grandrieux is a kind man who tought that the only way he could express his feelings with this theme, was by film. I rate it 7 out of 10.

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