Manivel makes a lot out of limited resources and by keeping things simple, he also makes them richly ambiguous. If the first more naturalistic half is a little overlong, the second part moves in unexpected directions and creates a powerful sense of unease and primitive anxieties arising from the dark fairy-tale like nature of the night setting.
A triple bravo for Damien Manivel! What a mesmerizing, magical piece. After a bit of research I think I have the locations decoded: the lake is at Smarves in Nouvelle-Aquitaine and the park is at Saint-Benoît only a mile or two away. A final note to Pagliai's fantastic cinematography. 5 stars and a half!
Le Parc really wants to be Before Sunrise, from the plot, to the character style, to the dialogue it is chock full of homages and allusions to the indie classic. The film falls well short of this lofty goal, leaving it a mess full of less charismatic characters, more plodding dialogue, and none of the charm to make you fall in love with it. The film did not capture the idealism needed to make it enjoyable for me.
This is a really skilfully produced movie. Nothing much happens, just a boy and a girl meeting in the park. The sequences are slow with little dialogue and a hint of menace. But it is so memorable that it leaves you thinking about it days after viewing. Memorable.
The realistic portrayal of young love contrasted with an eerie formalist second half makes Le Parc a unique little film. The short length of this movie allows it to get away with the slow pacing. Long shots with no dialogue can become boring, however, Manivel successfully uses them to deliver realism in the first half and a detachment from reality in the second half. Definitely worth a watch.