Northern France, 1910. The bourgeois Van Peteghem family return to their towering mansion above ‘Slack Bay’ every summer. An unlikely romance blossoms between the mischievous Bille Van Peteghem and local mussel-gatherer, ‘Ma Loute’. Meanwhile, a series of mysterious disappearances are taking place.
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I don’t know where Dumont’s farcical turn will lead, but at least it’s bringing out some unique results. Ma Loute is like the offspring of Monty Python and Fellini, if they were cousins. Burlesque characters - degenerate aristocrats, hungry fishermen and a really obese police - surreal events and absolutely beautiful cinematography. Plus there is a genuine story about love, class differences - and eating.
Digital. Tired of being a Bresson emulator, with mediocre or limited results, Dumont transports his ominous vision of the human into the minefield of the burlesque, after the twist of his previous film, equally much appreciated. And what do we have? A primary accumulation of effects, from actors to digital effects, desperately seeking to find the sublime of/in the grotesque. Not funny and unable.
MA LOUTE is far less readily digestible than P'TIT QUINQUIN (and has hella payoff(s) in this regard) but is definitely doing a few of the same things. This one is more forcefully crass, but likewise sees comedy as a domain in which the crass serves as ground for the transcendent. This one very rudely turns on us. Individual bits of business threaten to swirl off into the aether (well before they actually do).
Another macabre piece of whimsy from Bruno Dumont that offers a somewhat unique watch. While not the career changer 'Li'l Quinquin' was this cements Dumont as a director capable of so much more than the miserableness he was known for. Performers are game for whimsy here with a totally out of character turn by Binoche. ...you'll float too...