The whistleblower figure is popular on the big screen at the moment. and quite rightly so: no one denies the bravery of these new heroes and heroins nor their usefulness for the good health of democracy. But having a character fighting alone for the truth against a system a million times stronger is not enough to make a good film. Of course the genre guarantees suspense and highlights, but to be really successful, the writers and directors must definitely avoid the gaping trap that risks opening up under their feet, that of Manichaeism and self-righteousness. If they do mean to create a strong work of art they should then definitely avoid distributing good and bad points, pointing out the good guys and the bad guys. Otherwise their film will be worth little more than a low-grade soap opera.
Regarding Farid Bentoumi's film "Rouge (Red Soil)", which falls into the category described above, we can say, if you pass me the pun, that all the lights are green. Its relevant subject to begin with: the denunciation of a secret affair of toxic discharges, polluting a chemical plant and its neighborhood as well as a lake , the whole thing inspired by real facts having occurred in Ajka, Hungary (but which can happen anywhere on the globe, including at the Lake of Gardannes in the South of France for example). Also to the point is the realistic framework in which the action takes place: the natural setting, an existing chemical plant in Savoie, a good description of the factory's working and health conditions (symptomatic is the scant attention paid to occupational medicine within its walls). Everything in this film simply rings true.
Having successfully created a convincing setting, the director can now launch the young Nour on her difficult crusade for the truth to the unreserved adhesion of the viewer..
But who in fact is Nour? Well, the young woman is a hospital nurse who, following a professional problem, has become a company nurse for a chemical company. A key element is that she owes this work to her father Slimane, a specialized worker and staff representative, a respected figure who has been a fixture of the plant for decades. A blessing that unfortunately turns to a curse when Nour begins to understand that there is something abnormal going on in this enterprise. Honest to the core, the young woman soon finds herself facing an insoluble dilemma: should she put gratitude and family feelings first and thus become an accomplice to a system that damages the health of a great number of people? Or should she fight for the truth at the risk of alienating the love of her entire family ?
Far from weakening the film by excessive sentimentality, this intimate drama actually gives "Rouge" more relef, while avoiding any soulless (and accordingly counter-productive) dogmatism. With such a rich psychological study it has indeed nothing of a soulless political tract. It is a million much better: a double cry from the heart, both social and sentimental, the one and the other enriching each other.
There is no doubt that success could only be achieved with the investment of top-notch players; mission accomplished! Embodying Slimane and Nour, two torn characters, Sami Bouajila and Zita Hanrot are up to the task, the former pointing out the flaws of his character under a veneer of serenity and benevolence while the young actress displays a winning mix of naturalness, energy and sensitivity. To this duo of great quality is added Céline Sallette, convincing as a committed journalist with a dark side. Thanks to their art and direcctor's no one is caricatured : everyone has their reasons, including the plant manager (Olivier Gourmet, too little on screen but mesmerizing as always), who cannot be completely hated.
Technically speaking, the film is classic but devilishly effective, well paced and catchy from start to finish. The scope format is skillfully used and the few color effects, including the regular appearance of the color red, both a symbol of aggression (the polluted lake, the toxic mud) or of passionate impulses (Nour's bright red wedding dress, her protective gear), are a welcome artistic plus.
Go and see "Rouge", a film not only committed to a good cause but also thrilling, thought-porovoking and moving. You will see red in front of the practices denounced in this excellent work. Your eyes will be reddened by Nour's impossible choice. As for Farid Bentoumi, he has nothing to... blush about!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this