Luc Moullet shares stories of rampant mental disorders plaguing a region in Southern France. But the way that he presents the stories, in miniature stories narrated by various people set to simple shots around the countryside keep the film, alive and fresh. The delivery in the voices of the narrators add so much to the success, making it a strange but very welcome watch learning about these various tales.
I can't help thinking this was something of a lost opportunity. The idea of madness springing cthonically from a blasted region of the natural realm is a good and spooky one, and there is always something to be said for deadpan, of course. I just wish the autobiographic impulse had come through a little stronger. It must be very strange to think you are the descendant of an accursed and doomed lineage.
Series of interviews that tell stories of murder, mayhem and madness that lie in and around several towns in the Southern Alps. Luc Moullet is the quaint old man (onscreen) narrator who walks us through the narratives of these stories. The stories are entertaining and curious enough to engage. Although Moullet might think that the Madness of the area is all connected, my thesis is: people just be crazy.
The director and his main subject try to make a case that the geography and weather of the southern Alps have helped create an imbalance of madness and murder. Despite the many macabre stories told no true evidence involving science or common sense is presented, which is even acknowledged by the filmmaker before the end. Not worth the effort.
Documentary of the subjective sense, Moullet traces his own family origin through the land of madness in a search for meaning. He may end up blurring any hope of that, but at least by the end we see that might be willful construction on his part. Shaggy, grass-roots (deeply personal) affair, entertaining if a bit one-note.
I loved how you never feel the pretensions of objectivity or revealing "the" truth, that plague most modern documentaries. This guy tells us "his" truth, "his" motives and feelings about the things he chose to reveal, and he's so humble and transparent, you can't help liking him, even in the scenes where he makes that "I kinda feel like killing people on windy days" face.
So epic in its deadpan rakishness that the vast majority of viewers may well interpret it to be dead serious. Their loss. Moullet has always been a master of form. Not many filmmakers effectively use film form itself as a rich source of sophisticated humour. Moullet is the master of this. Basically this is a digressive 'pataphysical investigation (grounded in a personal reckoning) of madness in the French Alps.