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Credited cast:
Valentinas Masalskis ...
The Man
Fatima Ennaflaoui ...
The Girl
Axel Neumann ...
The Other
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13 December 2000 (France)  »

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Laisve  »

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A fascinatingly beautiful enigma - we need a decent DVD release!
29 February 2012 | by (US) – See all my reviews

My favorite of the three Bartas films I've seen to date. The images are as striking as in his earlier works, but there's just a bit more context to them now.

Two men and a woman are stranded in a strange desert (Morocco?) after they are chased from the seas by a coast guard boat firing at them. Presumably they were doing something illegal (smuggling? drug running? illegal immigrants?)

Once in the desert, there seems to be little to do – no way to escape, so they are trapped in a sort of 'no exit' absurdist existence. There is very little dialogue, and what few lines there were, were not sub-titled on the version I saw.

Yet I felt I missed little, because this film is all about image – these 3 people's faces as they look at each other, their enormous desert prison and their own fates, and beautiful, Terrence Malik like images of that natural, gorgeous hell that surrounds them.

Like Bartas' earlier films, it is slow, and resolutely refuses to answer any of the obvious questions – who are these people? What is their relationship to each other? But by giving this a more understandable opening context than, for example, Bartas' earlier 'Few of Us', I found myself far more drawn in, more interested in the game of filling in the pieces of the puzzle for myself.

The tough trick is getting to see a decent version. The only copy of the film I could find was posted on YouTube, so this beautiful film had to be seen in an awfully compressed version, on a computer screen. The fact that it still held me, and I could still see its beauty speaks to how strong the film-making is.

(And the fact that the two professional reviews linked on IMDb are both very positive, but both have totally different interpretations of the film - even it's basic story - humorously demonstrates just how enigmatic and open to interpretation Bartas' work really is!)


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