Edinburgh – Day 7

Odoul brings the Deluge

by empire |
Published on

From Damien O'Donnell yesterday to Damien Odoul today. Two directors, next to each other on the alphabetical list of Edinburgh visitors, but at opposite ends of the Festival's style spectrum. O'Donnell reveals a warm heart and mainstream eye in Inside I'm Dancing, Heartlands and East Is East. Odoul shows a harsher, more unforgiving, arthouse sensibility in Le Souffle, Errance and Le Deluge. All three of the Frenchman's features (plus six of his shorts) are screening in a retrospective here. Perhaps 'retrospective' is the wrong word; Odoul was only born, after all, in 1968. But this isn't the first time that Edinburgh has chosen to highlight the work of an emerging director early in his career. Back in 1975, the Festival screened the work-to-date of a young American guy who wasn't yet being taken seriously as a cinematic force. The films were Boxcar Bertha, Who's That Knocking At My Door, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and Mean Streets. The year after Edinburgh, he went to Cannes with Taxi Driver. Scorsese, we think his name was. Odoul isn't in the Scorsese league, nor is he trying to be. But he has already shaken things up at Cannes, given the savage reaction that greeted his latest film, Le Deluge, a few months ago. On its own, Le Deluge seems like an odd, undisciplined, indulgent work - shot on DV - about a dying old man who hires a shambolic group of actors to stage a play in his country house. Seen in the close proximity of his other films, it makes more sense, as Odoul boldly tries out different styles for every different story. UK critics compared him to Bresson and Tarkovsky when Le Souffle was released last year, but it's the other unseen feature here - Errance - that's a minor revelation, with its caustic portrait of a marriage and brilliant performance by Benoit Magimel as a drunken loser. By bringing all of his work together, Edinburgh has proved that Odoul is indeed one of the most exciting and undefinable talents in European cinema. Talking of retrospectives, the biggie running through the whole festival is one of the strongest elements in this year's programme. Valerio Zurlini is lucky if he's even allocated a footnote in the history books these days, but in Italy in the '60s and '70s, he worked with the likes of Alain Delon, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Claudia Cardinale, Marcello Mastroianni and Max von Sydow. The film Empire catches today, Black Jesus, was commissioned as part of a portmanteau movie with Godard, Pasolini and others, but the Catholic-Communist Zurlini went his own way, taking the money to make a full-length feature. He at least retained some of the brief: place the Gospels in a modern setting. Stirring up political controversy, Zurlini hired Woody Strode, star of John Ford westerns, to play a non-violent African rebel leader who is captured, tortured and killed by European soldiers in the Belgian Congo. Hands nailed to a table in an interrogation room, bodies strewn across the dusty ground in burning African villages? As today's news reports come in from Iraqi prisons and Sudanese refugee camps, it's obvious that Zurlini's message is still relevant. So too, says this Edinburgh retrospective, is his entire body of work. Flashforward Tips for Thursday *Zbigniew Preisner (UGC, 6.30pm) * The Polish composer of the scores for Krzysztof Kieslowski's later films (including the sublime Three Colours Trilogy) discusses his art. *Comme Une Image (Filmhouse, 7pm) * Winner of the Best Screenplay award at Cannes, the second film from Agnes Jaoui (Le Gout Des Autres) looks at the father-daughter relationship of a famous novelist and an aspiring soprano. *Anatomy Of Hell (Filmhouse, 9.30pm) * Catherine Breillat (Romance, A Ma Soeur) is out to shock again with another collaboration with porn star Rocco Siffredi.

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