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 ...
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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
Patrice Chéreau is an astonishingly daring artist. Not only did he completely change the manner in which Wagner's ''Der Ring des Nibelungen' was staged in a contemporary fashion (he also has revolutionized the opera world with many bizarre but ultimately creative productions) but he continues to stymie the film audiences with his strange, difficult works such as 'Intimacy', 'Those who love me can take the train', 'Son frère', and 'Queen Margot'. Here he directs a script he co-wrote with Anne-Louise Trividic called 'Persécution' that nearly defies understanding. But rather than that being a reason to avoid the film, it is a challenge to the intellect - because somewhere inside this film there is a philosophy that seems to be very important to grasp.
Daniel (Romain Duris) renovates lofts and houses in Paris and carries on a strange relationship with a traveling successful young girl Sonia (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Daniel is disturbed, usually in a foul mood, and has a love/hate moody relationship with just about everyone including Sonia. Daniel cares for a friend Michel (Gilles Cohen) whose presence in his life seems to mean little except the need to be protected. He seems to have other friends such as Thomas (Alex Descas) with whom he spends nights in the pub with Sonia. Into Daniel's dreary life enters a stranger (Jean-Hugues Anglade) who claims to be in love with Daniel: the relationship is pugilistic and it is unclear as to whether this unwanted stranger is real or a part of Daniel's psyche. Daniel and Sonia have an on again off again relationship - her job takes her as far away as Philadelphia on business - and these recurring periods of separation strain their relationship, as does Daniel's new preoccupation with the stranger. Daniel's only other 'job' is volunteering at a nursing home where he cares for the elderly: in a rare moment of insight Daniel shares with Michel that his father moved to that retirement home when his mother died, separating the father/son relationship. How the story evolves and resolves is the mystery left to the viewer.
There are many fine moments in this film that utilize the talents of such superb actors as Hiam Abbass (the great Palestinian actress from 'The Lemon Tree', 'The Visitor', 'The Syrian Bride' etc) and Yannick Soulier. The problem with the story is that there is very little to like about Daniel, Sonia, or Michel. Rather than a story, the film seems to be about how an individual can be driven to strange behaviors by self-imposed persecution, but that is only one viewer's idea. This is a challenging film, one that requires much thought - as well as much patience....Grady Harp
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