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Since the earliest days in her childhood Lara has had a difficult but important task. Both her parents are deaf-mute and Lara has to translate from sign-language to the spoken word and vice... See full summary »
A French chef swears revenge after a violent attack on his daughter's family in Hong Kong, during which her husband and her two children are murdered. To help him find the killers, he hires three local hit-men working for the mafia.
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I will tell her the blue words, the ones you tell with your eyes
Alain Corneau has been occupying a steady surge in French cinema for more than thirty years now. Topnotch thrillers like "Police Python 357" (1976), "Série Noire" (1979), ambitious works with "Nocturne Indien" (1989) or "Stupeur et Tremblements" (2003) reveal his strong ability at film-making. "Le Prince Du Pacifique" (2000), unworthy of his directing skills is perhaps the nadir of his career.
"Stupeur et Tremblements" which was a triumph when it reached the streets signaled a new direction in Corneau's work. In this intimate film, a young woman (Sylvie Testud) was the main character and before he shot his work, stories of men were the filmmaker's specialty. "Les Mots Bleus" is an extension of Corneau's new direction in his career with once again a young woman as the main role. It was the opportunity for Corneau to work again with Testud after their fruitful alliance for "Stupeur et Tremblements" and also to deepen his set of themes partly revolving on communication.
Three characters are at the core of "Les Mots Bleus". Clara (Sylvie Testud), a mercurial, neurotic mother who after she saw her grandmother died before her eyes stopped to read and is afraid of words. Her daughter Anna who is deliberately dumb. To try to cure her, her mother takes her to an institution for dumb an deaf children run by Vincent (Sergi Lopez), a manager who behind his solid look reveals zones of fragility and is unable to have a lasting relation with a woman. The school methods bear fruit for little Anna who gains trust in herself although she still refuses to talk to Clara's disappointment. The latter is smitten with Vincent but is afraid to love her.
Relationships the three characters weave between them partly constitute the film's attraction. Of the threesome, Anna is perhaps the more mature one; Clara and Vincent in a way act like children. The former dreads words and can't face the world that surrounds her while the latter in his course amuses the children by aping animals (in one sequence he apes a gorilla). He's also unable to link a love affair with a woman. Bit by bit, they will become easier to get on with each other. Scenery is also a vital element, notably the shed on the beach, a refugee for comforting childhood memories or the institution, a refugee for deaf and dumb children who through drawings let express what's going on in their souls. Like in Jean-Pierre Sinapi's "Nationale 7" (2000) which took place in an institution too (for disabled people), the choice of a DV camera for the sequences in the institution give the film a documentary approach and a blue-tinted cinematography serves Corneau's ideas. All in all, the real subject of the film is Clara and her reluctance to discover words and love again.
"Les Mots Bleus" didn't have as much impact as its predecessor and its somewhat formulaic, slick master plan clouds its scale of masterwork in Corneau's filmography although there's nothing mawkish here. Corneau's fans may want to watch it but it's not a film to which you would want to return.
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