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Critic Reviews for Humanité
Ought to be seen, because it's a work of moral and spiritual mystery as stubbornly challenging as Gone in 60 Seconds is morally anesthetizing.
Audiences willing to wade knee deep in the muck and mire of the human abyss are advised to seek out Humanité at the local arthouse.
Bruno Dumont's L'Humanite has the outer form of a police movie, but much more inside.
You probably won't feel comfortable when Humanité is over, but as you leave the theater you will feel more alive than when you entered.
Audience Reviews for Humanité
I was shockingly surprised when I found that the pace of this award winning movie was far more killing than its content. To say that it's the slowest movie I've ever watched might be an exaggeration, but it surely is the slowest movie I've watched this year. It seemed like it took generations to move ahead. But since it belonged to one of my favorite genres (mystery) and also won certain awards at Cannes Film Festival, I thought that it'd be worth suffering. Within minutes into the film, I'd predicted who would have perpetrated the crime. But I sat through it believing that I'd be wrong at least here. And I was wrong. Before you get it wrong, let me clarify that I sure was wrong..... but in predicting that I'd be wrong regarding my prediction.
I didn't dig much into the story of the film before watching it since it was a mystery/drama. And I avoided reading reviews since more often than not they come with free spoilers. I started watching this approx. 147 minutes looooooong movie believing that it'd be a murder mystery. But it hardly moved into that direction. It seemed to be some sort of drama which was way out of my taste and for which I wasn't prepared at all. And for once (those of you who emphasize on accuracy, feel free to replace "for once" by "once again") I missed the point of the movie, if at all there was one. I still have no clue about it and I don't care to; my head is still spinning and I'm filled with umpteenth rage and violence for its makers.
Emmanuel Schotte hardly had any expressions, and I don't feel that was a mean feat. To carry on with that blank and expressionless face throughout the movie must have been more of a drag than the movie itself. And that he survived it is worth loads of awards. I can't say about the rest of the actors.
Recommended for those who love 'different' kind of movies. They simply can't dare afford to miss out this one; it's once in a lifetime opportunity (for, who knows, there may be no life in you sooner than later you've started watching it). Good luck if you're going to watch it.
[font=Century Gothic]"Humanite" starts out in a small French village where everybody knows everybody else. An eleven year old girl has been brutally raped and murdered. Police superintendent Pharaon de Winter is on the case...or is he?(To be honest, he certainly is agonizing over the case.) He does seem to be spending most of the time as a third wheel to a couple, Domino and Joseph, who can barely keep their hands to themselves. In this kind of relationship, there seems to be something going on between Pharaon and Domino, but on a platonic level. [/font]
[font=Century Gothic]I watched the first half of "Humanite" on Thursday night and at first found the movie extremely off-putting. I was not quite sure what to make of the characters or the situation for that matter.(And the occasional extreme close-up was not helping either.) But then I spent the following day thinking it over and it dawned on me that what was happening in the movie was fairly straightforward - an investigation of a brutal murder in a rural precinct that was simply ill-equipped and was not prepared to handle such an investigation. This definitely helped in watching the second half of the movie the following night. What makes this movie unique is its novelistic structure - incorporating the individual stories of the characters into the movie and occasionally subordinating the investigation to the background. [/font]
written and directed by Bruno Dumont
starring Emmanuel Schotté, Séverine Caneele, Philippe Tullier, Ghislain Ghesquère, Ginette Allegre
Employing extended takes, a static camera, and deliberate pacing this film explores the language of horror and acute grief.
A young girl has been found dead in a field; she has been raped and bitten on the throat. Police Superintendent Pharaon De Winter (Schotté) is beginning the arduous task of gathering clues to determine who is responsible for the crime. His investigation leads him to the school bus the girl, named Nadege, rode for the last time as well as a mental hospital.
The pacing of the film is exceedingly deliberate as it allows the audience to pause and look at things for a great length of time. It focuses its attention on the faces of the characters and stays on them to allow the viewer to examine their micro-emotions to help determine their real feelings regarding whatever is troubling.
De Winter is beset with grief for pretty much the entire film. He looks worn, tired, and anguished over what he has seen. Indeed, he cannot let go of it; it haunts him wherever he turns. He seems particularly disturbed whenever he sees girls the same age as Nadege out on the street. He routinely pauses to stare at them for what amounts to an uncomfortable amount of time. Of course one cannot get inside his head but there are many possibilities as to why he lingers on the children and not all of them are decent. Still, one should not expect the worst in this case because there is no other evidence in the film to corroborate it. De Winter also has a habit of rubbing his face against the faces of other men. He does it with a man being interrogated, a doctor at the mental institution, and with the man who committed the deed. For the last one he goes further and kisses him strangely on the mouth. It doesn?t make any sense in the context of the film other than to display the pent up emotions that are welling up inside him. At one point in the film De Winter screams repeatedly after walking past the place where it happened.
Domino (Caneele) is a neighbor of De Winter?s and they are close friends. De Winter is gravely attracted to Domino and there is much tension between them from the beginning of the film although Domino shows no obvious signs of interest. Domino is dating Joseph (Tullier), a sour school bus driver with a foul mouth and surly disposition. .
Each scene features extended takes that explore the limitations of cinema with a rather documentary style. The camera is stationary for much of the film as all action is reduced to taking place within the frame. There are scenes where characters are moving from one place to another and the camera will show the entire journey from a few different angles. The film becomes a contemplation during these scenes as the viewer is allowed the opportunity to think about the nature of the film and existential queries that have developed. There are many such questions. What is the anatomy of sorrow? Is grief a sickness and is there an immediate cure? Is it possible to not sexualize the rape and murder of an eleven year old girl?
De Winter is fraught with anxiety for the entire duration of the film. He finds it difficult, if not impossible, to work through his feelings regarding the girl?s murder. Indeed, his breathing is often heavy and shallow, he is testy with his mother, and he is taunted by the relationship between Domino and Joseph. He doesn?t let it show very often but he is exceedingly attracted to Domino and this upsets him deeply. During one scene Domino decides to initiate some physical contact with De Winter. She tells him that he can touch her wherever he wants and proceeds to digitally penetrate herself. De Winter appears disgusted and promptly walks out leaving Domino to contemplate the cruelty of her act.
There are several sex scenes between Domino and Joseph that seem entirely out of place in this film; they are fairly graphic and animalistic. They don?t do anything to further the narrative and seem altogether gratuitous. There are many scenes that feature female genitals. There is the close up of the young girl?s sexual organs, the three sex scenes, a close up of Domino on her back with her legs spread and finally, the insertion of the finger into the vagina. One cannot help but wonder after the motivation for such scenes. It?s impossible to come up with a justification for such moments because there isn?t one. Naughty bits in cinema only work when the are directly related to the story being told. Here they just are, by themselves, apparently shown to demonstrate that Joseph has a healthy sexual appetite. Otherwise they serve no purpose.
There are moments of sheer, unadulterated beauty throughout this film. It?s filmed in relatively flat terrain and it allows the viewer to take in the boundless, seemingly infinite horizons that seem to go on forever. This openness works very well throughout the film to articulate the impossibility to contain the death of the girl and to make much sense of it. It is scattered across the sky and one cannot fully grasp it because it defies explanation. How does one explain the horrible, brutal death of an eleven year old girl? There are no words that allow most of us to comprehend the severity of the act. Of course when one thinks about the needs and desires of the one who committed the crime, then it becomes easier to understand. One can gain insight when one can see the deed itself through his eyes and work through his mind to process it as it occurs without any moral hand wringing. As this has proven to be impossible for most persons it remains thoroughly experimental at this stage.
The film plays like a tone poem to the many facets of despair. The camera hovers agonizingly over the faces of the characters articulating a deeply felt and overbearing torment that informs the girl?s horrific death with tremendous sadness. Specifically, there are numerous shots of De Winter?s face that clearly show his fragile emotional state as he attempts to come to terms with the crime. He occasionally hides his face in his hands as if he cannot bear the burden of knowing that such a thing is possible and that it could happen to such a bubbly, lovely creature who has given no cause to be treated so barbarically.
The performances in this film are natural and believable. Emmanuel Schotté captures his character?s overarching loneliness and grief with an admirable clarity. De Winter is a wholly sympathetic character who Schotté deftly conveys with warmth and tremendous calm. Séverine Caneele possesses a quiet dignity throughout the film. Her character comes off as knowing and terribly understanding. Philippe Tullier gives us a terminally crass character who is often shown to be uncouth and slightly unhinged.
Overall, this is a devastatingly mournful film that seeps into the skin and remains there long after the film has concluded. There is a coldness about it, almost clinical, that is rooted in the sense of loss that is readily felt from the beginning. It shows how terrible things can leave a lasting impression on those whose job it is to deal with the aftermath while struggling to maintain their sense of personal order. De Winter is simply a man whose nature is such that crimes of this sort do not simply wash over him. He is the type that is haunted by such cruelties and therefore susceptible to emotional strain that plays on him routinely and keeps him menacingly by the throat.
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