Komma

First feature by Martine Doyen boasts a tantalizing undertow of infinite possibilities cloaked in often captivating imagery. But the visual bravado and narrative teasing lead nowhere in particular, which is frustrating in the presence of so much raw talent. Fest auds who value the journey more than the destination may not mind.

With:
With: Arno, Valerie Lemaitre, Edith Scob, Francois Negret, Fabrice Rodriguez, Amarante Pigla de Vitry d'Avencourt, Charles Pennequin, Francois Neyken. (French, English, German dialogue)

It would put a crimp in most people’s evening to wake up zipped into a body bag in a morgue, but after spontaneously recovering from a fatal heart attack, the protag in “Komma” is on his bare feet in no time, appropriating clothes and a new identity. First feature by Martine Doyen boasts a tantalizing undertow of infinite possibilities cloaked in often captivating imagery. But the visual bravado and narrative teasing lead nowhere in particular, which is frustrating in the presence of so much raw talent. Fest auds who value the journey more than the destination may not mind.

Fiftysomething, lived-in looking Peter de Wit (singer Arno, in his bigscreen debut) comes to in a Brussels morgue with no idea how he got there. Helping himself to the wallet of another stiff — a Swede named Lars Erickson — he escapes and checks into a classy hotel as Erickson.

Meanwhile, Lucie (co-scripter Valerie Le Maitre), an unhappy, high-strung artist, undergoes fetchingly lensed acupuncture in preparation for a mysterious live performance she’s scheduled to inaugurate that night.

However, in the elevator cage of the apartment building owned by her elegantly overbearing mother, Helene (Edith Scob, rivetingly flaky), Lucie is molested by the former man in her life, Edouard (Francois Negret). He’s dashing, yet perverse.

Lucie abandons her startling presentation — a visual highlight of the film — in midstream. Peter, who has dined at a Chinese restaurant where the musical entertainment sets a comic high in incongruity, rescues the apparently amnesiac Lucie from a vacant arcade. Lucie is trusting and disoriented, Peter/Lars is gruffly chivalrous — to a point.

Can a recently resuscitated shady character and a haunted artist create a future from snippets of an unreliable past? And does the fairy tale of “Sleeping Beauty” have resonance for contemporary adults? Probing, restless camera, given to extreme close-ups, leads us to think so. But striking finale, while pregnant with promise, is an arbitrary letdown.

Unconventional score is above average.

Komma

Belgium - France

Production: A La Parti Prod. presentation of a La Parti Prod., Movie Stream Filmed Entertainment (Belgium)/OF2B Prods. (France) production. (International sales: Bavaria Film Intl., Munich.) Produced by Jean-Luc Ormieres, Isabelle Filleul de Brohy, Philippe Kauffmann, Guillaume Malandrin, Vincent Tavier. Directed by Martine Doyen. Screenplay, Doyen, Valerie Lemaitre.

Crew: Camera (color), Hugues Poulain; editors, Mathyas Verres, Doyen; music, Jeff Mercelis; art director, Valerie Grall; sound (Dolby), Manu De Boissieu. Reviewed at Cinematheque Francaise, Paris, May 12, 2006. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Critics Week.) Running time: 101 MIN.

With: With: Arno, Valerie Lemaitre, Edith Scob, Francois Negret, Fabrice Rodriguez, Amarante Pigla de Vitry d'Avencourt, Charles Pennequin, Francois Neyken. (French, English, German dialogue)

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