Benoit (Xavier Beauvois) has planned out his life. Unfortunately he has forgotten the military duty. After he is called to duty he tries everything to get around. He goes to a psychiatrist ... See full summary »
Present-day Chad. Adam, fifty-five, a former swimming champion, is pool attendant at a smart N'Djamena hotel. When the hotel gets taken over by new Chinese owners, he is forced to give up ... See full summary »
An old Hobo is spending his days picking up cans to feed himself, but he is known around town for telling great stories to those who care to listen. His stories tell of fantastic voyages of... See full summary »
Matthieu and Eric are two brothers who work at the same factory as their father in Normandy. When his father is dismissed for smoking on the factory floor, Matthieu is incensed and tries to have him reinstated, in vain. His brother has just got married and, with a child and mortgage on the way, is reluctant to stir up trouble. Likewise, Matthieu's fellow workers refuse to get involved. Then ... See full summary »
In 1996, in Algeria, eight French monks of The Monastery Notre-Dame de l'Atlas of Tibhirine have a simple life serving the poor community that was raised around the monastery. During the Algerian Civil War, they are threatened by terrorists but they decide to stay in the country and not return to France. One night, the extremists break in the monastery and abduct seven monks. A couple of months later, they are found dead in controversial circumstances. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The official French submission for the Foreign Language Film Award at the 83rd Academy Awards. See more »
We are martyrs out of love, out of fidelity. If death overtake us, despite ourselves, because up to the end, up to the end we'll try to avoid it. Our mission here is to be brothers to all. Remember that love is eternal hope. Love endures everything.
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Chris Morris's debut Four Lions (2010) found fame in it's irreverent portrayal of Islamic fundamentalism in Yorkshire: the headlines that accompanied Brass Eye (1997-2001) successfully carried on into a low-key marketing campaign in that debut feature. Beauvois' film isn't so much a farcical account of the spiralling contradictions of religious extremism. But it does share its preoccupation with exactly how far one, or rather a small community, can go to devote themselves to their beliefs.
The film is located in the 1996 Algerian Civil War, and tells the true story of a monastery under threat from the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria (GIA). Dom. Christian (Lambert Wilson) takes it upon himself to express their intentions to ignore the threats, and continue their mission of goodwill. This is disputed by the group throughout, whose dilemma forces some of them to question their allegiance to God, and jeopardise their own health (as with the outstanding Michael Lonsdale's, Luc). Coping with the sacrifices involved in such an all-consuming faith is key to the themes here ("We're not here for martyrdom" reminds Christian), and it's difficult to recall a more delicate, understated study. An excellent example of Beauvois' achievement, both visually and performance-wise, is the kiss Luc places on the mural of Christ. Moments like this underline the dependency they all share on one thing alone: their religion. It looms over them, both haunting and cradling them throughout, like the vast, unspoiled skylines which constantly diminish them beneath - Caroline Champetier's cinematography is key to the affect created.
Tranquil moments like Luc's, where the viewer is allowed in such close, personal space, are almost unsettling in the access that's granted. The beauty achieved in these meditative scenes is all the more striking as we're reminded that these men are nearing the end of their lives. Death is always present from direct representation (as with the brutal throat-slitting of the Croat workers) to the indirect (the technique of cutting from the most tranquil scene to the loudest, most destructive scene).
The film is an anti-thriller in its treatment of fear and terror - the key moment occurs before the half-way point, and the viewer is left fearing for a reprisal for the duration. Beauvois' alternative narrative, featuring a fairly clear split down the middle, also featured in his previous Don't Forget You're Going to Die (1995) and To Mathieu (2000). Similarly, more recently, Mia Hansen-Love's Father of My Children (2010) involved a number of characters picking up the pieces in the wake of death. French colonialism in Algeria is only once directly attacked, when the police chief demands they leave. However, when viewed in a similar light to, say, Hidden (Cache, Michael Haneke, 2005), the occupation these men choose, the service they provided, the sacrifice they made, could too, easily be forgotten. So while the terrorism fears, today shared globally, are a focal point, a narrative of this kind reminds one not to forget the horrors of the past.
Of Gods and Men is testament to a thriving New French Cinema. Thought-provoking, rich in content both (formally and thematically), it's difficult to find fault with a film that so meticulously justifies its choices: the landscape is artwork, the tone is perfect, and the performances are achingly affective throughout.
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