That Day is world renowned filmmaker Raoul Ruiz’s surrealist black comedy about greed, innocence, and the thin line separating madness from sanity.
When Harald (Michel Piccoli), the patriarch of a high society family, can no longer pay the bills, he conspires to bump off his harmlessly mad daughter Livia (Elsa Zylberstein), the heir to his wife’s vast fortune. To accomplish the deed, Harald arranges for the escape of Emil (Bernard Giraudeau), a psychotic killer who has been confined in a nearby asylum. But a funny thing happens on the way to Livia’s rendezvous with death: Emil develops a tender protectiveness towards her. Gradually, the pair form an unlikely union as Emil kills the remaining members of the scheming family in their own country estate.
A critical hit at both the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, That Day is pure farce, as bodies pile up while the heroine stays blissfully oblivious.
Chilean filmmaker Raúl, or Raoul, Ruiz (1941-2011) was one of the most exciting and innovative filmmakers to emerge from 1960s World Cinema, providing more intellectual fun and artistic experimentation, shot for shot, than any filmmaker since Jean-Luc Godard. A guerrilla who uncompromisingly assaulted the preconceptions of film art, this frightfully prolific figure – he made over 100 films in 40 years – did not adhere to any one style of filmmaking. He worked in 35mm, 16mm and video, for theatrical release and for European TV, and on documentary and fiction features and shorts. His career began in avant-garde theatre where, between 1956 and 1962, he wrote over 100 plays. Although he never directed any of these productions, he did dabble in TV and filmmaking in the early 1960s. In 1968, with the release of his first completed feature, the Cassavetes-like Tres tristes tigres (1968… read more
Ruiz, spinning yarns again. This one is interesting because the entire thing could be an invention of its central character; random notes in her journal: an elaborate delusion? The defective detectives are a nice touch, playing into the usual mystery/thriller convention, where the investigator on-screen is a representation of the audience. Here the detectives can't be bothered to solve the crime, but it still manages to resolve itself around them anyway. An amusing farce.
Saddened to hear of Ruiz' passing. For me, he was the most interesting Latin American filmmaker alive until his death a few days ago. Each work, in exile, in languages foreign to him, had subtle references to what he loved most--his native country Chile and Latin America. My review of his 2003 film "That Day" appears at http://moviessansfrontiers.blogspot.com/2010/06/101-chilean-director-in-exile-raul.html.
An unknown masterpiece with one of the most marvelous French actor cast you can imagine. Also my favorite performances of both Bernard Giraudeau and Elsa Zylberstein. Raul Ruiz excels at capturing and recreating the Swiss ambience of a small village with a subtly faked tone. The scenes inside and around the café at the beginning still haunts me.