Sombre - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sombre Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 13, 2016
It's neither disturbing or graphic as it was reputed to be, Sombre is by far the worst French extremities. It was wonky, boring and confusing. The only reason why people would walk out of the cinema is because of how boring it is.
½ March 29, 2015
The film making style is boring.
½ November 7, 2014
The title doesn't lie, this is a somber film about a French hombre. Intimate drama about.. a serial killer? It's shot in striking verite, but goes on for too long.

"Technique in 'Sombre' becomes annoying rather than extreme or unsettling."
? Donald J. Levit, ReelTalk Movie Reviews
September 1, 2014
Looking at other reviews and feedback, the majority of people who didn't like this film didn't like it because it was too disturbing or too graphic. Personally, I didn't like it because it was a piece of shit.

In most instances, I will praise a movie for taking its time. Its often refreshing to see a story portrayed without forcing action and dramatic plot points into every scene to keep an audience entertained. It is usually a nice change of pace from the overstimulating and seizure inducing mantra of modern film making. This however borders on coma inducing boredom. I would wager that there are literally 40 minutes of wasted time in this film. So much wasted space that even Werner Hertzog fell asleep. I just can not forgive that blatant of a waste of my time.

The plot itself is mundane, unfulfilling, unrelatable, and simply boring. OK, so there's a serial killer. He starts hanging out with some chick. He kinda wants to kill her and kinda doesn't. The end. Throw in a bunch of lackadaisical camera work, stupid indy rock music, unnecessary dance scenes, some full frontal female nudity and you have the formula for a 2 hour movie right? Wrong. Its basically a more graphic version of a Lifetime Network original movie.

The acting is wooden as a hollow log. Barbe is more funny than anything. His bumbling and fumbling killings are in no way disturbing, bordering more on hilarious. His murders are more like a 13 year old boy struggling to get a girls bra off the first time. Lowensohn as the female lead is even worse. A total waste in fact. I can't even remember enough about her performance to critique it it was so non-memorable. All other actors are equally terrible.

The direction is amateur. Over saturated color, terrible lighting, half-framed shots, and confusing scene cutting combine to give the effect of a movie filmed on a broken hand-held Nikon. The script is nearly non existent. I would be surprised to here that there are more than 200 spoken words of dialogue. Of course that's probably by design when you hear how hokey the existing script is. Whats worse is that it insists upon it's own supposed seriousness and depravity, trying to force a pitch black tone on a film that's ridiculousness and horrible construction give it away 5 minutes in.

Not disturbing, not relevant, not anything but a shittily constructed, self insistent, boring-ass piece of shit film. Not even copious amounts of female nudity could muster this above one star. A complete waste of time. Anyone who thinks this is a disturbing film still has a nightlight in their room.
July 5, 2012
I decided to write a review for this movie as I think most of the people who've seen it didn't quite understand it. Basically, it's one of those "love-it-or-hate-it" films.
Jean, a serial killer travels through France killing prostitutes until he meets the virginal Claire. But, despite the brief moments of "love" the two of them share, Jean will always remain a killer - and he will continue to suffer because of that.
It's a controversial topic, and it may be too much for some people. As the title says (Sombre, in french, means obscure), it's a very dark movie, extremely raw, where the most simple emotions, like love, are distorted and presented almost in a unbearable way. But you have to see through its darkness to reach the beauty and purity this film actually has. The virgin who gives herself to the beast, it's just like a fairy tale. Sure, there isn't much dialogue, the movie is slow-paced, and sometimes it's so dark that we have to use our imagination to guess what's happening. But it's an amazing cinematic experience where you literally dive in its gloomy ambience thanks to exceptional acting, atmospheric music and some of the most beautiful close-ups I've ever seen. For better or worse, this movie stays with you long after you've seen it, and it's not easy to forget. I truly recommend it, as a different, obscure and beautiful piece of art. But beware: it's not a film for everyone. The less you know about the movie, the better. This way, you have an unexpected surprise.
March 24, 2012
Looking at other reviews and feedback, the majority of people who didn't like this film didn't like it because it was too disturbing or too graphic. Personally, I didn't like it because it was a piece of shit.

In most instances, I will praise a movie for taking its time. Its often refreshing to see a story portrayed without forcing action and dramatic plot points into every scene to keep an audience entertained. It is usually a nice change of pace from the overstimulating and seizure inducing mantra of modern film making. This however borders on coma inducing boredom. I would wager that there are literally 40 minutes of wasted time in this film. So much wasted space that even Werner Hertzog fell asleep. I just can not forgive that blatant of a waste of my time.

The plot itself is mundane, unfulfilling, unrelatable, and simply boring. OK, so there's a serial killer. He starts hanging out with some chick. He kinda wants to kill her and kinda doesn't. The end. Throw in a bunch of lackadaisical camera work, stupid indy rock music, unnecessary dance scenes, some full frontal female nudity and you have the formula for a 2 hour movie right? Wrong. Its basically a more graphic version of a Lifetime Network original movie.

The acting is wooden as a hollow log. Barbe is more funny than anything. His bumbling and fumbling killings are in no way disturbing, bordering more on hilarious. His murders are more like a 13 year old boy struggling to get a girls bra off the first time. Lowensohn as the female lead is even worse. A total waste in fact. I can't even remember enough about her performance to critique it it was so non-memorable. All other actors are equally terrible.

The direction is amateur. Over saturated color, terrible lighting, half-framed shots, and confusing scene cutting combine to give the effect of a movie filmed on a broken hand-held Nikon. The script is nearly non existent. I would be surprised to here that there are more than 200 spoken words of dialogue. Of course that's probably by design when you hear how hokey the existing script is. Whats worse is that it insists upon it's own supposed seriousness and depravity, trying to force a pitch black tone on a film that's ridiculousness and horrible construction give it away 5 minutes in.

Not disturbing, not relevant, not anything but a shittily constructed, self insistent, boring-ass piece of shit film. Not even copious amounts of female nudity could muster this above one star. A complete waste of time. Anyone who thinks this is a disturbing film still has a nightlight in their room.
September 24, 2011
I can't really say I enjoyed watching Sombre, but I can say it made me think and was really interesting. I think what made the film painful (other than the subject of murder and sex mixing together) was how everything was underexposed and shaky. There were plenty of things that Grandrieux did to make sure his audience didn't have a joyful experience. Although, Peter Bowlin did have a chub through half the film. The film opens up with kids watching a movie and rooting for someone to get killed (if I'm not mistaken, I believe that's what was happening). Then we move into the main character, Jean, who is in a room with a prostitute, making her show off her body and him getting her scent, and then killing her. We go through this twice before he meets Claire, the woman he falls in love with. The next part of the film shows him together with her for a bit while he takes her to her sister's for holiday. During this holiday he is ready to kill two strippers, but he can't because he sees Claire. He has fallen in love and wants to be a better person. Up to this point there really hasn't been much dialogue. Perhaps we have had 20 lines tops and it's about an hour into the film. Every single word sticks to the audience and makes them use what they were given to put the pieces together. In this way, it's very well done. Then when he sees Claire's sister naked for the second time he can't help himself and has to do what he normally does to naked women: smell their cooch and then suffocate them.

**SPOILERS**

The party scene is pretty tough. They go back and two guys try to have sex with Claire, but she is a virgin. Something sparks within Jean and he wants to stop them. Instead he gets the shit kicked out of him and she drives away. She saves her sister and is driving back to Paris, but on the way back she finds Jean. Instead of her getting mad and killing Jean with the car, she stops, gets out, and has sex with him. But interesting enough, she takes control and shows him it's her decision. See, in the past, Jean paid women to have sex. He was in complete control and he kills them. Just like how he's a puppeteer, being in control is what gets him off. So when she takes control it's simply sex and no killing. But he doesn't know if he can stop himself again, so he stops a car and makes her leave him. In the end, he is back to his routine. So the film is questioning this: is killing in his nature, just like our hormones for sex? Love is natural for her, she can't help it, so can he help himself from killing these women? Or at least, this is how I saw the film. There is another scene where Claire is talking to the woman that picked her up and she claims Jean was her husband. The woman asks Claire if she loves him and she says yes. Then the woman goes on to explain that she fell in love when she was 15 when she didn't really know what love was. It's not always something you can understand, but something inside of you. This film gives you plenty to think over and play with, but some of it was a little too painful to watch. Perhaps this was the filmmaker's intentions, but it wasn't always needed.
August 23, 2011
This film is immoral and almost pornographic. The characters are filmed so close you can actually feel them in their gestures, you feel the love, you smell the fear. The picture is very dark, often fuzzy, never stable. It keeps on jumping from the lights of the car, to childrens' screams, to womens' hips and hands on their throats. You'll either love it or hate it.
January 23, 2011
Incredibly artistic and disturbing. Sometimes it is not clear whether the main character is having sex or killing the girl. Made me explore my most animal instincts. Overall, communicatively French ruthlessness. However, a bit hypothetical and raw.
July 6, 2010
It's like Possession meets Irreversible meets Antonioni meets Trouble Every Day by way of Lynch. I don't know how you can write something like this. Feels a little overlong, but besides that, it maintains an impossibly nightmarish tone throughout. Probably the only movie to contain stretches that accurately portray the perspective of a drunk person.

edit: 3rd rewatch. Has the most effectively horrifying atmosphere I've ever encountered in a movie. Also, probably the most subtle, nuanced sound design and stunningly nightmarish cinematography ever put to film. And the performances breathe impossible life to such dark yet human characters. If you think cinema is dead, watch this. It isn't, as long as people like Philippe Grandrieux continue to make films.
June 15, 2010
So unsettling and yet amazing.
½ June 2, 2010
Haunting and hypnotic. The visuals, editing--and sounds--are very impressive. It feels like some kind of bad dream that doesn't always make sense, but it works. What threw me off was the behavior of Christine, but if I had read the full synopsis (I wish I had) it probably would have made more sense to me. I will definitely be checking out Grandrieux's other films.
March 31, 2010
Eh, kind of the case with this surreal piece.
½ November 9, 2009
So many great moments and experimentation show the inner workings of a damaged mind in a hypnotic and almost lynchian way. Check it out!
March 26, 2009
Remuant, plastiquement superbe, parcouru tout du long par la pulsion et la noirceur. Une entree remarquee dans le cercle des realisateurs qui comptent.
½ November 16, 2008
This is definetly not the type of film that everyone will like. Most will just call it too slow or boring. I would agree that the pacing does drag a little in the middle of the film but this is a beautiful piece of work. The direction gives us this sence of a psychopath's engagement with the outside world. Grandrieux plays with focus, lighting, etc. to create a very unique feel to this 'thriller'. The parts shot near the river are just amazing.
½ October 10, 2008
Derangeant, exigeant, perturbant, unique et d'une troublante beaute. SOMBRE n'est pas un film "plaisant" mais il demontre un savoir-faire indeniable de la part d'un "nouveau" realisateur. Grandieux, issue des arts visuels destabilise de prouesses et de moments forts. La scene d'ouverture de ce film (disponible sur Youtube) en est un bon exemple. Elle donne le ton a ce qui va suivre. Desormais, c'est ce realisateur deja affirme que nous devrons suivre. Un auteur est ne !
½ September 16, 2008
Philippe Grandrieux is the best thing since bread came sliced. In Sombre, every fucking shot is the piece of a genius. Every single seconds of sexual violence is something of an utmost relevance exploring the more twisted paths of Art. Bravo.
August 22, 2008
Viewed 8/21. You could think of this as a "minimalist" horror movie: there is very little dialogue, almost no back-story, and the score is mostly made of ominous muffled drones. Much of the suspense in this movie is generated through subtle and unorthodox means, such as the use of darkness, blurring, jittering camera, and hard edits. This is often surprisingly effective, creating a great deal of claustrophobic tension, and (at its best) creating a convincing sense of a psychopath's faulty sensory engagement with the surrounding world. Ultimately, however, the story sags a bit in the middle, and the narrative's occasional digressions and elisions are more baffling than stimulating.
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