For his first feature, Dumont studied the ennui endemic in a provincial northern French town. The central character, Freddy—you know he’s an everyman from the title of the film is a 20-year-old epileptic who lives with his mother and spends his time biking around with his buddies. There is so little to do that the tension between him and a young Arab man over Freddy’s girlfriend becomes almost volcanic. That the filmmaker takes a simpleton like Freddy, and has him played by a nonprofessional, and finds drama in the quotidian of his life is a key to understanding Dumont’s sometimes misunderstood view of the human condition: We are all worthwhile. –Sarajevo Film Festival
Bruno Dumont is a filmmaker whose use of celluloid is a direct result of his intense desire to understand and make sense of the world around him. His downbeat dramas may not appeal to those who see only the negative in a cinematic world of stark reality, but viewers with the ability to see a glimmer of light in the darkness will surely connect with his sometimes bleak cinematic endeavors. A former philosophy professor who has turned his mind toward crafting confrontational films in which no aspect of modern society is out of bounds, Dumont has claimed that his films are the result of a noted effort to bring film back to the body in hopes of stirring the viewer’s emotions. His 1997 debut, The Life of Jesus, was not a literal retelling of the events of the life of the biblical Jesus, but a socially critical look at life in Northern France. Acclaimed worldwide for its affecting portrayal of bored street youth, the film opened many doors for the director, and it wasn’t long before… read more
A Harrowing portrait of a town drenched in boredom and a study of how wayward youngsters deal with boredom and react to the inchoate angst brewing inside them owing to the lack of opportunities and the general drabness of an austere landscape where nothing happens. Tangled emotions, wounded desires, attempts at comprehending a seemingly perplexing existence leads to emotional quagmires with devastating results ! Dumont paints this picture with the brushstrokes of an elegiac poet, yet maintaining a distance, allowing the audience to feel the mystifying atmosphere of ennui which haunts his characters and fuels their action.
It's all about the faces and the landscapes. The faces disassociated from the action (the drummers on Armistice Day), the figures of the young men dwarfed in the distance by the plains of Flanders. The Life of Jesus captures the ennui of Flanders and the borderlands of northern France in the same pastel solitude mined by the Dardennes.