Greer is a girl on the cusp of womanhood. Like some curious fabled creature she lives in a remote, rundown woodland farmhouse with her Dad, Ivan, a former gamekeeper whose mind has been ... See full summary »
Greer is a girl on the cusp of womanhood. Like some curious fabled creature she lives in a remote, rundown woodland farmhouse with her Dad, Ivan, a former gamekeeper whose mind has been ravaged by chronic mental illness. Father and daughter are suspected and ostracized by the nearby village. Greer spends her working days tending to elderly, failing residents of the local care-home and the rest of her time looking after her dad. But despite her loving devotion to Ivan, Greer imagines life beyond the narrow confines of her own and is troubled by the heavy burden she bears. Greer romanticises about a life lived in colour. The impossibly glamorous Francoise and Seamus crash into the care-home to visit his mother. Greer is entranced. They seem to epitomize everything she's dreamt of: beauty, success, sophistication and access to the world in all its glory. She attaches herself to them, flattered by their awareness of her and enraptured by the atmosphere of decadence they inhabit. But ... Written by
Graphic violence and sex on camera can be cheap ways of grabbing attention. Paris/Sexy contains both, but it was other components and the overall impact that made a lasting impression that Paris/Sexy was one of the very best shorts I saw in this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival.
The film opens with strong visual contrasts. A young woman chops wood outside her house in the countryside, far from other habitations. She's still dressed in a nightie. Probably she has this household chore before getting dressed for work. But the incongruity is slightly surreal. A fragile image of beauty highlighting hard conditions. It's underlined by the briefly lingering shot of a rough, unshaven man who might be her father. The camera loiters on his stubble. We are pulled to the more aesthetically pleasing and strangely normal image of the daughter.
Another sudden shift but still creating narrative rather than artificially disrupting it we see woodchop girl at a bedside in the village, helping an elderly person take their medicine. A second, contrasting female figure enters, leather jacket and lipstick. She suggests an unstated different perspective, still to be explored. Meanwhile woodchop girl lipsticks the elderly lady, a token of personal caring and empathy. We will learn that leather girl is a French model and her name is Francoise. Woodchop girl (who's called Greer) helps her find a hotel. Next morning, woodchop leather girl go to the pub with a male (played by Martin Compston) that has shared the hotel with leather girl (his sister?) last night. Where afterwards? Woodchop is uncomfortably embarrassed at the thought of visitors seeing her truly grotty house. Torn mattresses. Peeling walls. It's a hovel. The youngsters' clean wholesomeness, even with their differences, seems out of place. But it is what you might have to accept in the countryside. It is just, as Francoise says, 'really weird.' For all the lipstick, Francoise is not a pretentious person. Neither is Greer a bumpkin. There is a virginal purity they share, literal or metaphoric. They pass through the unclean world without being tainted. A spirit of wild horses. Where are locked doors in such a world? Like uncaged birds, they would sidestep the hidden whispers.
Paris/Sexy delivers an uncluttered poetry of extremes with natural economy of dialogue and littered with visual kick-self clues that make us gasp at the powerful dénouement. A feature film offers many different challenges. Accomplishing it with the skill and impact displayed in this short would be a treat.
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