“Out in the Country,” an ultra-leisurely portrait of a few resigned characters who have left Paris for a sleepy little provincial town, is composed of underwhelming moments that ring true. Heartfelt ensemble perfs, a touchingly banal central romance and a rambling yet memorable free-form narrative showcase quite a bit of talent, but add up to a hearty slice of life of which most viewers will want only a small helping. Fests and Eurotube should bite.
Few contemporary filmmakers are chronicling the daily lives of ordinary folks who have traded the city for the country — and one is tempted to say that there may be a good reason for that — but helmer Manuel Poirier shows that fresh air and close proximity to farm animals is no sure-fire panacea for urban malaise.
Following her release from prison near Paris, twentysomething Lila (Judith Henry) travels to the small hamlet where her sister is living and meets Benoit (Benoit Regent), an unassuming, somewhat awkward ex-Parisian in his late 30s. An unlikely romance blossoms between them although each is haunted by residual thoughts of former partners. One day Lila leaves without warning and Benoit finds himself distraught over her absence.
Longish, sometimes comical takes in which inchoate emotions are contained beneath the surface are contrasted with a prolonged episode of drunken carousing , illustrating the human urge to stir up a little trouble some days and to steer clear of it on others.
Scripter/helmer’s 1992 debut, “La Petite Amie d’Antonio” (“Antonio’s Girlfriend”), displayed a gentle knack for capturing the workaday urges and foibles of semi-urban young people trying to find their way in the world despite emotional damage. “Out in the Country” strikes a similar tone while exploring the activities of a slightly older batch of friends, but creates less audience sympathy as the characters are already set in their ways.
Stylized theatrical ending in a dreamlike cabaret is inexplicably odd. Tech credits are fine.
Eleven minutes have been trimmed from overlong pic since itpreviewed at Angers fest. Helmer was most likely reluctant to snip more, since lead actor Regent died recently. Pic was Regent’s next-to-last and stands as a lasting testimony to his unaffected ability to inhabit a character.