A pre-adolescent receives "Blood Sport"-style training from his own sicko dad in "Un monde a nous," a conceptually awkward but skillfully realized thriller from Frederic Balekdjian ("Gamblers").
A pre-adolescent receives “Blood Sport”-style training from his own sicko dad in “Un monde a nous,” a conceptually awkward but skillfully realized thriller from Frederic Balekdjian (“Gamblers”). French countryside-set pic offers a new take on the controversial subject of home schooling, with comic star Edouard Baer (“Off and Running”) teaching his son to bust heads, break kneecaps and elude an invisible gang of deadly mercenaries. Best when it relates the disturbed p.o.v. of a traumatized kid, worst when it resorts to pseudo-psychological explanations, this dark and risky venture looks to perform mildly in Gaul and elsewhere.
Opening suspense sequences — one involving an eerie late-night car ride, the other an attempted “kidnapping” — establish the pic’s mostly tense and gloomy tone. Arriving in an unknown small town and clearly on the run from someone or something, Marc (Baer) sets up house with 12-year-old son Noe (Anton Balekdjian, the helmer’s real-life son) on an isolated farmstead.
Marc enrolls Noe in a local school and allows him to occasionally watch TV. But otherwise, he subjects him to a rigorous routine of homespun combat classes — including kickboxing and military evasion tactics — in case the alleged baddies ever show up.
Film’s midsection, stronger on narrative and less heavy on thriller gimmickry, portrays Noe’s difficult adjustment to his new surroundings. He quickly falls for chipper classmate Marine (Nassereba Keita), whom he saves from some local bullies but shuns afterwards, egged on by his father’s fears about being found out by Marine’s cop dad (Philippe Lefebvre).
In the final, action-packed reels, Noe begins investigating the true reasons behind their life on the lam.
Working with a scenario similar to that of Clint Eastwood’s “A Perfect World” (pic’s French title translates as “A World of Our Own”), co-scribe/director Balekdjian seems more comfortable employing suspenser techniques than analyzing father-son psychology.
Newcomer Anton Balekdjian is convincing as the kid, while Baer works an interesting though less assured transition from his usual comic roles. Shadowy lensing by Stephan Massis (“Looking for Cheyenne”) heads a pro tech package that also includes evocative sound work by Ludovic Henault (“The White Countess”), Olivier Do Huu (“Son of Rambow”) and Benoit Hillbrant.