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Le Souffle Review

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Listening to rap music and fantasising about girls while his uncle's friends bond in a manly way, teenager David (Pierre-Louis Bonnetblanc) undergoes a rapid, tragic coming-of-age transition on a remote farm.

★★★★★

Comparisons with Robert Bresson and early Francois Truffaut have been made on behalf of this stark and often shocking coming-of-age study set in the Limousin countryside.

But this is to deprive writer-director Damien Odoul's analysis of teenage alienation and adult initiation of its originality and power.

In a world in which emotionless slaughter and boorish male self-gratification are the norm, the events that unfold on Pierre-Louis Bonnetblanc's birthday seem inevitable rather than unlikely. Moreover, the fact that they're enacted by a non-professional cast and recorded in monochrome gives them an even greater authenticity and impact.

The insertion of primitive lupine imaginings that symbolise the boy's unpreparedness for abandoning childhood may feel intrusive. Few will be left unmoved by this honest discussion of raw emotion and moral irresponsibility.

It's easy to bandy around comparisons to Bresson and Tarkovsky, but first-time director Damien Odoul creates his own distinctive mood with black-and-white photography punctured by primal dream sequences in a remarkable debut that captures a young man's feeling of isolation.

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