Review: ‘Obviously I Need You’

An antisocial juvenile delinquent learns to behave after forced exposure to societal outcasts in "Obviously I Need You." Fiction bow by established documaker Jean-Michel Carre argues convincingly for the curative powers of compassion and tolerance, but does so in such an ambling, uncompromising fashion that commercial prospects beyond Gaul will be limited.

An antisocial juvenile delinquent learns to behave after forced exposure to societal outcasts in “Obviously I Need You.” Fiction bow by established documaker Jean-Michel Carre argues convincingly for the curative powers of compassion and tolerance, but does so in such an ambling, uncompromising fashion that commercial prospects beyond Gaul will be limited.

After being caught beating and robbing a man in Paris, repeat offender Denis (Denis Lavant) is sentenced to live in an experimental open community, the Coral. (This real locale, founded in 1975 by Claude Sigala — who plays himself in the pic — nestles in the wild landscape of the Camargue region near Nimes.)

Residents are a bundle of nervous tics: Some mumble, some talk incessantly, and others never talk at all. Much of the dialogue from the skeleton staff is of the “I’ve had it up to here with you today” variety. The simplest tasks and excursions become daunting or spark crises. Community pressures on the suspect enclave are also effectively portrayed.

Since newcomer Denis is ornery, and his behavior vacillates between sullen moping and frenetic outbursts, there’s no logical explanation for a local barmaid’s attraction to him, particularly when he tries to force himself on her.

Docu-style lensing serves the loosely scripted enterprise. Visual highlights include Lavant being trampled by a bull when he impetuously throws himself into the ring.

Lavant himself contribs a lilting accordion solo.

Obviously I Need You

(VISIBLEMENT JE VOUS AIME)

Production

(FRENCH) A Pyramide release (in France) of a Films Grain de Sable production, with aid from CNC, the Languedoc-Roussillon Region and Procirep. Produced by Films Grain de Sable. Directed by Jean-Michel Carre. Screenplay, Claude Sigala, Carre, Jacky Berroyer, Patricia Agostini, Piotr Barsony.

Crew

Camera (color), Hughes de Haeck, Thierry Ducom; editor, Sarah Matton; music, Francois Peyrony; sound, Alain Garnier, Jean-Paul Guirado, Dominique Hennequin. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Cinemas en France), May 27, 1995. (Also in Cambridge Film Festival, England; Amiens Film Festival, France.) Running time: 102 MIN.

With

With: Denis Lavant, Dominique Froh, Vanessa Guedj, Jean-Francois Gallotte, Marie Roversi, Claude Sigala, Lionel Melet and residents of Le Coral.
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