Au Revoir La Haut (2017)
Director: Albert Dupontel
Writer: Albert Dupontel
Actors: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Albert Dupontel, Laurent Lafitte
The way I discovered this film was very interesting. I was scrolling through the local cinema app's coming soon section, when I suddenly spot three strange films. All three films were French. Now if you know anything about Dubai, you would know that the overall film taste does not encompass indie French films. So I was really surprised to see three films screening here. Then I saw that they were only showing in one specific theater, and only for a limited time. Out of three, Au Revoir La Haut was the only one that had a timing that fit my schedule. That's how I found out about the film. I did not know anything about it. Didn't watch the trailer, don't know the director, nothing. All I knew was the title and the poster. I went in with nothing, and was surprised by the outcome. It is films like these that really make me disappointed with the current film industry. If this low budget French film can create an engaging and original story, why can't all these huge companies do the same?
Au Revoir La Haut shines in its deceptively simplistic story. I say deceptively simplistic because on the surface it seems simple. A veteran who lost his jaw in war is trying to scam money from war profiteers using his art. However, the actual story-line of the film feels like a giant chess board where every piece is meticulously moved. All of the characters weave together beautifully in the web of the story. Each and every character presented has a clear impact and the audience knows his/her place in the story. Furthermore, the slight plot twists in between the main plotline were a great treat. They did not overpower the film, yet they also changed how we looked at the characters. For example when Albert discovers that Edouard's sister is married to Pradelle. This plot twist is something to peek the interest of the viewer and bring back his attention, however it does not overshadow the whole plot. This is merely a bump in the road and the viewer then starts thinking how this would affect the upcoming plot. Many of these small plot twists happened in the film and it really helped me engage more with the film and think about how it will all resolve. Speaking of how it will all resolve, although the film managed to end all of the subplots neatly, I felt at times things ended too neatly. As if things just happened in order to finish up this subplot. This is not that big of a criticism, but I just felt towards the end things were being rushed in order to neatly answer all of the questions remaining. Other than that, the entire story is what carried this film in my opinion.
Other than the story, the film had great visual and auditory elements that aided the plot. First off, the masks of Edouard were a great centerpiece. Each mask conveyed a different feeling. Not only was it conveying what Edouard was feeling, it was also giving off that feeling to the audience and how to feel about a certain scene. I really enjoyed that element of the film and I feel like it gave the costume artists a real opportunity to create pieces that would accurately reflect what the director wanted the scene to convey. Otherwise, the entire film was shot nicely. It wasn't something exceptional, but it was still better than half of the popular films we see nowadays. Conversely, the music of the film was great as well. Nothing to write home about, however, it still served its purpose. It was subtle and really lifted certain scenes to where they needed to be.
All in all, Au Revoir La Haut is a film that I went in with zero expectations and came out feeling very happy. It made me realize how simple stories and passionate film-making can make a great movie, no matter the budget or country of origin. I just wish the industry as a whole would push more towards films such as these. The mundane blockbusters have become so mind-numbing that you have no feelings when you watch it. You get in the theater and go out thinking "that was a thing". Whereas films like Au Revoir La Haut take you on a journey in two hours. You exit the cinema with feelings of happiness, sadness, excitement, and many more. Films are supposed to constantly give you these unique experiences. Which is why, if you get a chance to watch this film, I highly recommend you go and do so, because you won't be disappointed.