Marrying the personal with the political, first-time feature helmer Orso Miret tackles fairly ambitious material in “Resisting Remembrance.” But after a strong beginning, Miret isn’t able to pull together the pieces in a coherent fashion. Pic attempts to provide a snapshot of a family being pulled apart at the seams and an examination of the history of the French Resistance in World War II, but ultimately doesn’t satisfy on either front. Pic looks like a fest item more than anything else.Olivier (Stephane Bierry) is preparing a doctoral thesis on French Resistance fighters and is desperate to meet the father of his pal Guy (Yann Goven), who was a celebrated foe of the Nazi invaders. Guy keeps putting off the meeting with his dad, and it soon becomes clear why: His father has just died. Guy and his brother, Fabien (Olivier Gourmet), have their dad’s body cremated , which was apparently his wish. But soon Guy is having second thoughts about what they did and starts accusing Fabien and his sister, Danielle (Brigitte Catillon), of trying to get rid of all trace of their father. The three siblings are basically having a collective nervous breakdown, most particularly Danielle and Guy. In the process of divorcing her husband, Danielle starts having random sexual encounters. Guy, for his part, is simmering with rage and self-loathing, and he seems unable to communicate with anyone in a way that doesn’t contain vitriol. Things aren’t made any easier by the presence of their mother (Martine Audrain), who is also falling apart following the death of her husband. It’s an intriguing premise, but Miret simply leaves too many basic questions unanswered. Most important, it is never made clear why the three kids were all bitterly estranged from their father when he was alive. Was he a monster? Or did they just drift apart? Similarly, the WWII angle is not mined in any depth. It is noted that the father miraculously escaped from a collective execution during the war, but little else is revealed of his life during or after that period. Pic is anchored by strong performances by three leads, most notably Goven, who brings a remarkable intensity to his portrayal of the tormented Guy. Gourmet is also good as Fabien, who seems like an ordinary guy under immense pressure, and Catillon delivers a passionate turn as Danielle. Pic is shot starkly with no frills, but music too often veers toward the melodramatic.
A Sunday Morning Prods. production. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Nathalie Mesuret. Directed by Orso Miret. Screenplay, Miret, Roger Bohbot, Agnes de Sacy.
Camera (color), Olivier Chambon; editor, Agnes Bruckert; music, Gorecki; art director, Christian Roudil; sound, Patrice Mendez. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Critics Week), May 16, 2000. Running time: 121 MIN.
Guy ..... Yann Goven Fabien ..... Olivier Gourmet Danielle ..... Brigitte Catillon The Mother ..... Martine Audrain
With: Jocelyne Desverchere, Stephane Bierry, Jacques Spiesser, Katty Loisel, Michel Robin.