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The solitary Daniel and Sonia share an uneasy love/hate relationship. Daniel's life is disrupted by the appearance of a stranger that proceeds to insinuate himself in his life. The man's persistence takes its toll on Daniel and Sonia, leaving Daniel alone with nagging questions of "Why?"Written by
Pusan International Film Festival
"Persecution: active, systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group or individual."
After watching "Persecution", you might just wonder who is really persecuted: Daniel, the short-tempered main character, stalked by a stranger who claims he's in love with him, Sonia, Daniel's girlfriend with whom he argues frequently and can hardly connect, or simply the spectator. Watching a film like this is anything but a treat: unlikeable characters, stark settings, ugly photography, it is French "psychological" cinema at its worst. I don't have a problem with Chéreau, I understand he makes films for an adult and educated audience. Some of his daring choices (as in "Intimacy" for instance) are challenging but interesting, at the very least enough thought provoking to get something out of them. Unfortunately, "Persecution" is a pretentious and overblown piece of work, as if Chéreau gradually became more and more full of himself over the years to eventually forget one essential thing: the audience. "Gabrielle", released in 2005, was already a "stiff" and dry film, well played and well directed, yet haughty and cold. As Chéreau's works get more and more personal, spectators are more and more kept at a distance by the filmmaker. The problem is that films are made for an audience (even if it's not a broad one), not just for the pleasure of wasting money. When artists create works that not only have no appeal for most of the people, but also have seemingly no clear purpose, I believe they lose the sense of reality. I assume that is what happened to Patrice Chéreau, who has proved with other films that he is more than an able director. I don't mind watching a film where the main character is complex, obsessive and quite unlikeable (remember "Naked" directed by Mike Leigh). I don't mind watching wordy films (I've had my share of Woody Allen's and Eric Rohmer's flicks). But I resent films where I am left out, where the story has nothing to catch my attention. Romain Duris (who plays Daniel) is as convincing as a home renovator as Gérard Depardieu as a nun but is very good at getting on everyone's nerves, including the spectators', Charlotte Gainsbourg as the aloof girlfriend is remarkably dull, Jean-Hugues Anglade's intriguing character is sacrificed, secondary characters are not fleshed out as they should have been (poor Hiam Abbass has only a few lines to say). Even what would have been interesting leads were given up by Chéreau (for instance, we never know whether the stalker's character is a figment of Daniel's imagination or not, and that could have added an uncanny touch to "Persecution"). At its worst, the film is extremely repetitive when things begin quickly to stall. In spite of a good opening scene, I couldn't care less about what was going to happen to any of the characters. In other words, I never felt that "Persecution" was a movie really worth my time.
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