Review: ‘Those Facing Us’

In "Those Facing Us," a young woman whose boyfriend has gone on a spiritual quest spends a chunk of summer contemplating a collection of powerful photographs while her much older host composes music. Material will appear either transcendentally thoughtful or random and pretentious.

In “Those Facing Us,” a young woman whose boyfriend has gone on a spiritual quest spends a chunk of summer contemplating a collection of powerful photographs while her much older host composes music. The height of personal, deeply felt art cinema for a self-selecting crowd, material will appear either transcendentally thoughtful or random and pretentious. New Wave vet Jean-Daniel Pollet, who’s been crafting increasingly personal films for more than 40 years — frequently with composer Antoine Duhamel — also has a career retro at Paris’ Pompidou Center this fall.

Linda (Valentine Vidal) follows the instructions of her unseen b.f., Sebastien (voice of Alan Beigel), to visit Mikael (vet Michael Lonsdale, in a quirky, rock-solid perf) at a country house. There she finds a suitcase full of photos of everything from radiantly exotic women to starving children and blind lepers. Her assignment is to position them in relationship to each other while reciting interior monologues and listening to Sebastien’s gloomy, then increasingly hopeful, philosophizing via audiocassettes. Disabled helmer has poured enormous reflection into the lovingly assembled and formally lensed venture whose final scenes pack a punch for the heroically patient.

Those Facing Us

France

Production

A POM Films release of a Cauri Films, Arte France production. (International sales: POM, Montreuil, France.) Directed by Jean-Daniel Pollet. Screenplay, Pollet, Laurent Roth.

Crew

Camera (color), Acacio De Almeida; editor, Francoise Geissler; music, Antoine Duhamel. Reviewed at Les 3 Luxembourg, Paris, Oct. 2, 2001. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Michael Lonsdale, Valentine Vidal, voice of Alain Beigel.
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