Reviews of U.S. Go Home
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‘No Fear, No Die’ and ‘U.S. Go Home’ (which i actually had seen before, but had been dying to see again for years) are the only 2 films of Denis’ that aren’t available on DVD, probably due to a music rights issue. The soundtrack to ‘U.S. Go Home’, featuring everyone from ska artist Prince Buster to Nico and The Rolling Stones, is one of the most memorable things about the film, along with Vincent Gallo’s show stealing appearance at the end as well as Gregoire Colin’s dance scene, which almost feels like an homage to Chris Parker’s dance in Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Permanent Vacation’ (Denis worked as an assistant director to Jarmusch in the 80’s). In ‘U.S. Go Home’, two teenage girls; Martine (Alice Houri) & Marlene (Jessica Tharaud) plan to lose their virginity at a party, but need Martine’s older brother Alain (Gregoire Colin) to take them, or else their parents wont let them go. Naturally he’s defiant at first but he eventually comes around. When they finally get to the party Martine has an uncomfortable encounter with an older man who tries to have sex with her. This causes her to ditch the party, leaving her brother and Marlene behind who eventually have an awkward sexual experience with each other later on. After Martine leaves the party she’s picked up by an American soldier (played by Vincent Gallo). Once again Gallo plays “himself” like he does in any other movie. But its so hilarious because he comes off SO American, especially when surrounded by a bunch of Parisians. He’s awful at the pronunciation of french names (he pronounces ‘Alain’ as “ALLEN” in that overly American sounding buffalo new york accent of his) and the scene where he offers Martine and her brother coca cola is clearly some kind of a metaphor for Gallo’s “American-ness”. Eventually, Martine and the Soldier go off in to the woods and its clearly implied that they have sex. As a huge fan of Denis, i really loved the last 10 minutes or so of ‘U.S. Go Home’ (which includes the scene where Martine and the soldier go off in to the woods). In 1994, Denis was still a fairly new director, and hadn’t completely developed her unique style that we’re familiar with today. One of Denis’ strengths as a director is her ability to quickly or casually hint at things, which is what the last 10 minutes of ‘U.S. Go Home’ does. At the end of the film, in a scene which is very similar to a scene in ‘35 Shots of Rum’, we see the 3 teenagers silently waiting for the bus, not speaking to one another, yet so many things are made obvious. The scene leaves us wondering what the relationship will be like between Martine and her brother, as well as the relationship with her friend Marlene, now that she’s had sex with Alain. And in another scene where the soldier and Martine are about to part ways, probably never to see each other again, their body language and the way they look at each other says so much. Even though this coming-of-age teenage tale is almost like an “anti-john hughes” film, you can still enjoy ‘U.S. Go Home’ whether or not you’re a fan of stuff like ‘the breakfast club’ or ‘pretty in pink’. At the end of the day, they all deal with the same issues: The awkwardness of growing up, losing your virginity, having a crush on someone, etc. Denis just approaches those issues slightly differently.
‘U.S. Go Home’ was part of a french tv series called; ‘Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge’, in which various directors (including Olivier Assayas and Chantal Ackerman) had to make a semi-autobiographical film about their teenager years. The one stipulation that all the directors had to follow was that each film had to have a party scene. On a side note, Denis and Olivier Assayas went on to collaborate on the idea of what would eventually become ‘Irma Vep’. I can only imagine how great the other films in this series came out, especially from the likes of Ackerman and Assayas.
Anyone who likes Denis’ other movies will love this. I guarantee it. It features 2 of her most commonly used actors (Colin and Houri). Any film that features Alice Houri, an actress that i constantly bug on facebook (and she actually responds to my comments) is always a plus for me. Plus Colin and Houri playing brother & sister felt like a prequel to what’s considered one of Denis’s most popular films; ‘Nenette & Boni’ (the film that followed ‘U.S. Go Home’, which co-stars Vincent Gallo as well), in which Alice Houri plays a pregnant teenager who runs away to live with her estranged older brother, played by Colin. With all the attention Denis is getting these days (she’s considered to be one of the best directors working right now), i really hope someone like criterion can get the music rights for this film taken care of so it can see a proper dvd release.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.