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The sound engineer Charlotte returns from Paris to her hometown in the countryside after the death of her mother, a clairvoyant card-reader murdered in her cottage. In the opinion of the police, the killer was one of her acquaintances as the house was not broken into. Charlotte feels hostility from her neighbors and decides to bug their house using her sound equipment. However she finds that inside her mother's house, there is a connection with the past and she can hear what happened there. Charlotte investigates the leads and discovers the truth about the death of her mother. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A film about the invisible world made by an invisible woman
This fascinating and innovative film is the feature film debut of Alanté Kavaïté, who wrote and directed it. The IMDb database gives no information about her. However, I have managed to discover that she is identical with Alanté Alfandari, who is listed separately on IMDb. That listing also gives no information about her except that in 2002 she wrote and directed a short film (of unknown duration) called LA CARPE, which deals with a group of friends intending to cook a carp for dinner, but it disappears and flaps around on the kitchen floor despite being entirely invisible. Whereas the film about the carp may have been intended as a joke, this feature film (apparently entitled FISSURES in the USA because of the widening and creaking cracks in the old house featured in the story, and the fissures in the ground beneath) is a very serious work, having in common a preoccupation with the invisible. Alanté, as I shall familiarly call her as I cannot be certain of her real surname since she seems to be two separate people united only by one Christian name (if indeed she be Christian, which is by no means a certainty), is deeply interested in psychic or supernatural phenomena. Her interest in the invisible must relate to herself as well, for she is so invisible that there is almost nothing known about her except that photos of her available on the web show her to be an attractive young woman with dark hair who looks like what the Chinese author Pu Songling calls a 'fox fairy' sprite. Who or what is this invisible woman of no certain identity? Is she herself a ghost, such as those who are continually heard on the soundtrack of this supernatural film of hers? The film stars the young actress Émilie Dequenne, who was 25 at this time. She is exceedingly good in the part. She plays the tautly tense daughter of a mother known to the locals in her rural town as a 'witch' because she has psychic powers, can predict the future, and has powerful clairvoyant faculties. The mother is spookily played by the highly experienced actress Ludmila Mikaël, a veteran of no less than 85 films and still only 63 herself! Dequenne is a specialist sound engineer and recordist for film companies, specializing in natural phenomena, and we see her recording the gurgling of a geyser in Iceland early in the story. Then her mother, from whom she is largely estranged, is unexpectedly murdered and she has to return to her strange and lonely old stone farmhouse, as the only child, to sort things out. Her father lives elsewhere and refuses to join her. The mother's murderer has not been caught, so Dequenne sets about trying to identify the killer. The story is thus a straightforward murder mystery in that sense. But the real content of the film is the exploration of the psychic world. Using her sound equipment, Dequenne discovers that inside her mother's house she can listen to and record conversations which have taken place there in the past. She plots these on a grid of strings which she stretches across the living room. Eventually she discovers that there is a deep hole beneath the floor, and using a plumb bob she suspends a vertical cord down into it, and can record conversations going back in time which can be measured vertically on that cord. By this method, she explores what took place in the house in recent years and tries to identify the murderer, as her mother was killed in the same room. The performance of Dequenne is so convincing, and the direction is so effective, that this apparently silly idea comes across with genuine conviction, and the viewer can provisionally accept it as possible. Then Dequenne expands her own psychic powers and can evoke and see past events happening before her eyes, as she develops more and more of her mother's psychic powers. The mayor of the town is dumping drums of toxic chemicals into holes near the town, a young boy has vanished without trace on the way to his violin lesson, and there are plenty of strange events going on. The locals are surly and unfriendly to Dequenne because of their fear of her mother, although she eventually discovers that nearly everyone in town had consulted her mother for psychic readings and guidance, so that her mother knew all their most intimate secrets. There is also a psychologically disturbed young man who grows and sells organic vegetables (which the French call 'bio', pronounced 'beeo', rather than 'organic') who Dequenne discovers was having a passionate affair with her mother and now becomes fixated on her, claiming that she is now all he has left of her mother. And there is yet another psychologically disturbed young man living next door who has a secret altar to her mother, whom he worshipped. His mother refuses to speak to Dequenne and is horribly rude to her. It is all rather hair-raising and gripping stuff, well done, and it works. So who is the invisible woman who made this film, and when will she next emerge from the shadows with her tarot deck in hand? And yes, the murder is solved, even though the director's identity is not. Which is the greater mystery, the film or the film's conception and realization? And can we record and hear what the invisible director herself said in the past? I have an old plumb bob which I bought in an antique shop in Delphi, maybe that would do the trick, as it comes from the world centre of divination. Maybe this doppelgaenger woman should next attempt to film Par Lagerkvist's novel THE SIBYL, which is set at Delphi in ancient times.
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