BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Jun 10th, 2009 •

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The most coherent story on the DVD issued on this movie is contained in the Special Feature about the making of the film.

In the making-of-the-movie movie, Rufus Sewell speaks of weaknesses in the script (which had also been acknowledged by both Emmanuelle and Fabrice) but that failing was seemingly entirely swept away by the emotion and enthusiasm of the collaborative experience of battling the physical demands of creating “a big film with small means” in harsh punishing locations.

Thailand is standing in for Burma.

The premise of the story is the disappearance of the couple’s son in the terrible tsunami which devastated Burma after cyclone Nargis, and the mother’s obsessive need to find him. But the greatest failing of the script is the subsequent fantasy that the consequence of that tragedy was the creation of a hoard of orphaned children gone feral in the jungle, who prey on and finally destroy the grieving father and claim the mother as their own as she joins them in their “vinyan” state of hell on earth.

It is evident that the film was conceived in his usual spirit of passionate intensity by Fabrice du Welz. At the airport in Thailand, goodwill incense was burned with offerings made to Ganesh, and the recruited children were urged to “make a wish from your heart”.

But then, to high-jack Burma’s very real tragedy for the sake of exotic location and sensational exploitation (“We really outdid ourselves in sordid material”), I find shocking and tawdry. The wish I make from my heart was that the filmmakers would have made a film revealing the bravery after Nargis of the Burmese people’s heartbreaking fight for survival against an enemy as feral as those children – the brutal heartless Generals who denied food and aid to their people and have created a horror story even more exploitative than any fiction.

But that is not the du Welz style – horror fans look to him for the gasp of shock and schlock, and at the film’s end they sure get it.

That said, there are performances from Emmanuelle Beart and Rufus Sewell heroic in their valiant attempts to make sense of a chaotic relationship, and to endure the grueling physical exertions of their fruitless search. Notable among the Thai cast is Peter Osathanugrah as Thaksin Gao, who tries to help but suffers a spectacular death for his pains. There is some breathtaking cinematography by Benoit Debie, whose prowess also as camera operator is brave to the point of foolhardiness.

All in all, I recommend skipping the film and watching the Special Feature.

The real people in the real situations are far more interesting.

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