All for One

Showing a strong sense of place and of an environment that doesn't readily foster hope, Bontzolakis keeps the camerawork and editing simple. The cast brings rare naturalness and restraint to their roles, especially Carriere and Ducron (both of whom also appeared in the director's first feature, "Familles je vous hais"), whose bitter final encounter closes the film on a poignantly hollow note.

With:
Nicolas ..... Alexandre Carriere Thierry ..... Nicolas Ducron Francoise ..... Florence Masure Annie ..... Dominique Baeyens While it begins unexceptionally like another of the melancholy coming-of-age tales that flow like wine from French film schools, Bruno Bontzolakis' "All for One" cranks up an entirely unexpected emotional thrust that signals the director as a highly disciplined young talent. Broadly classifiable with other bleakly soulful dramas set in Northern France and Belgium such as "La Vie de Jesus" and "La Promesse," this arresting, beautifully observed account of the problematic path to adulthood may segue from festivals into very select arthouse markets. The drama is constructed around characters introduced in Bontzolakis' 1996 short film, "Vacances a Bleriot," who are played here by the same actors. In the earlier film, 19-year-old longtime friends Nicolas (Alexandre Carriere) and Thierry (Nicolas Ducron) were preparing for military service. Now, one year later, they are winding up the compulsory army stint and are faced with carving out an independent life without skills or higher education. Excluded from an army career due to their lack of high school diplomas, they stall the return to their families and to certain unemployment by checking into a seaside camping ground. They strike up a friendship with Francoise (Florence Masure) and Annie (Dominique Baeyens), two single women in a neighboring tent. As romance shyly develops between Francoise and Nicolas, Thierry becomes increasingly sullen, refusing to respond to Annie's attempts to draw him out and giving the first inkling that his feelings for his friend may run deeper than he is able to show. Depicting his unglamorized characters with directness and honesty, Bontzolakis steers them through a series of subtle shifts in tone. The most moving of these is the change of mood as the story fast-forwards several months to find Nicolas living with Francoise and her infant daughter. Visibly aged in the short space of time and robbed of all his boyish cockiness, Nicolas is unmotivated and unemployed, living off Francoise's wages and afflicted by a sense of despondency. Having taken a security guard job in the same town to be near Nicolas, Thierry eases his way back into his friend's life. He distracts Nicolas from his ill-fitting family responsibilities and involves him in the theft of some electrical goods, the proceeds from which make Francoise suspicious. She confronts Nicolas forcing him to make a choice that proves difficult for him and unendurable for Thierry. While the story's natural bent is toward tragedy, Bontzolakis and co-scripter Melina Jochum's interest clearly is not in violent shocks but in getting under the audience's skin in quieter, more penetrating ways. .....The drama steadily increases its intensity, adding further nuances to each character as their disappointing adult lives take shape and they gradually resign themselves to the poor hands they have been dealt. The sensitive script makes resonant points about solitude and longing, as well as the loss of dignity that comes with being unemployed, the psychological and emotional weight of that loss, and the cruel paradox of characters pushed into quitting school early to help support their families but then not qualified for all but the most unrewarding jobs.

Showing a strong sense of place and of an environment that doesn’t readily foster hope, Bontzolakis keeps the camerawork and editing simple. The cast brings rare naturalness and restraint to their roles, especially Carriere and Ducron (both of whom also appeared in the director’s first feature, “Familles je vous hais”), whose bitter final encounter closes the film on a poignantly hollow note.

All for One

French - Belgium

Production: A Quo Vadis Cinema, La Boite Prods., CRRAV, La Sept Cinema, RTBF, SM Films production with participation of Centre National de la Cinematographie, Centre du Cinema et de l'Audiovisuel, French Community of Belgium. (International sales: Quo Vadis Cinema, France.) Executive producer, Jerome Vidal. Directed by Bruno Bontzolakis. Screenplay, Bontzolakis, Melina Jochum.

Crew: Camera (color), Miguel Sanchez Martin; editor, Matyas Veress; art directors, Patrick Colpaert, Thomas Peckre; sound, Olivier Schwob; line producer, Luc Leclerc du Sablon. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Cinemas en France), May 21, 1998. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: Nicolas ..... Alexandre Carriere Thierry ..... Nicolas Ducron Francoise ..... Florence Masure Annie ..... Dominique Baeyens While it begins unexceptionally like another of the melancholy coming-of-age tales that flow like wine from French film schools, Bruno Bontzolakis' "All for One" cranks up an entirely unexpected emotional thrust that signals the director as a highly disciplined young talent. Broadly classifiable with other bleakly soulful dramas set in Northern France and Belgium such as "La Vie de Jesus" and "La Promesse," this arresting, beautifully observed account of the problematic path to adulthood may segue from festivals into very select arthouse markets. The drama is constructed around characters introduced in Bontzolakis' 1996 short film, "Vacances a Bleriot," who are played here by the same actors. In the earlier film, 19-year-old longtime friends Nicolas (Alexandre Carriere) and Thierry (Nicolas Ducron) were preparing for military service. Now, one year later, they are winding up the compulsory army stint and are faced with carving out an independent life without skills or higher education. Excluded from an army career due to their lack of high school diplomas, they stall the return to their families and to certain unemployment by checking into a seaside camping ground. They strike up a friendship with Francoise (Florence Masure) and Annie (Dominique Baeyens), two single women in a neighboring tent. As romance shyly develops between Francoise and Nicolas, Thierry becomes increasingly sullen, refusing to respond to Annie's attempts to draw him out and giving the first inkling that his feelings for his friend may run deeper than he is able to show. Depicting his unglamorized characters with directness and honesty, Bontzolakis steers them through a series of subtle shifts in tone. The most moving of these is the change of mood as the story fast-forwards several months to find Nicolas living with Francoise and her infant daughter. Visibly aged in the short space of time and robbed of all his boyish cockiness, Nicolas is unmotivated and unemployed, living off Francoise's wages and afflicted by a sense of despondency. Having taken a security guard job in the same town to be near Nicolas, Thierry eases his way back into his friend's life. He distracts Nicolas from his ill-fitting family responsibilities and involves him in the theft of some electrical goods, the proceeds from which make Francoise suspicious. She confronts Nicolas forcing him to make a choice that proves difficult for him and unendurable for Thierry. While the story's natural bent is toward tragedy, Bontzolakis and co-scripter Melina Jochum's interest clearly is not in violent shocks but in getting under the audience's skin in quieter, more penetrating ways. .....The drama steadily increases its intensity, adding further nuances to each character as their disappointing adult lives take shape and they gradually resign themselves to the poor hands they have been dealt. The sensitive script makes resonant points about solitude and longing, as well as the loss of dignity that comes with being unemployed, the psychological and emotional weight of that loss, and the cruel paradox of characters pushed into quitting school early to help support their families but then not qualified for all but the most unrewarding jobs.

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