Our penultimate film report from the Screamdance strand at Raindance 2019 looks at Jelle Stroo’s LA DEUXIÈME (2019), a lean Belgian/French chiller about the birth of a prophet. Here’s our RADIANT CIRCUS writeup.
By RADIANT CIRCUS
d. Jelle Stroo, 2019 (Belgium/France, 78 mins)
“It’s important to leave your old self behind.”
Jean (Julien Vieuloup) runs a spiritual commune where he promises to deliver new life in literal terms. Each attendant acolyte receives a second chance that arrives at the front gate to the compound in the form of a doppelgänger. The new ‘you’ appears at an uncertain time by uncertain means to replace shattered lives with ones free of suffering.
How this happens is never explained. And no one, including the prophet himself, really seems to understand Jean’s gift (if indeed it has anything to do with him…). But happen it does, and the process of how each of the small community comes to encounter their double and relinquish their former life is the main thrust of the film.
“If you don’t choose, Nature will choose for you.”
Much of LA DEUXIÈME is filmed in the claustrophobic rooms and grounds of the compound. A cave in the gardens seemingly acts as some kind of gateway between worlds. Baptism and death seem equally brutal. But all else is sparse. Even the character we arrive with (Camille, Alix Vega) fades into the background following her rebirth, helping to marshal the lost along and assert discipline when required (“You have to show her who’s boss.”).
Jelle Stroo’s visuals are crisp, the dialogue sparse and despite its short 78 minutes run time, LA DEUXIÈME rarely feels the need to rush. RADIANT CIRCUS loved it, a slender but perfectly formed mystery that ends with a dramatic rise, in stark contrast to its empty beginnings.
And that’s the meat of it…
RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
The 27th Raindance Film Festival screened at Vue West End & Vue Piccadilly (18 to 29 SEP 2019).
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