'Lost Persons Area' took the SACD

Flemish blue-collar drama "Lost Persons Area" tends to take its title far too literally, losing sight of its characters in a meandering narrative that fails to emotionally engage.

Despite eye-popping locations and a swell of good intentions, Flemish blue-collar drama “Lost Persons Area” tends to take its title far too literally, losing sight of its characters in a meandering narrative that fails to emotionally engage. Set in an industrial wasteland a la “Red Desert,” freshman helmer Caroline Strubbe’s tale of a family torn apart by a gruesome accident is both dramatically and technically shaky, relying mostly on bobbing handheld camerawork to tell a story that would benefit from a more refined approach and several trims. Still, “Lost” may yet find its way into some Euro arthouses.

Scraping by in a no-man’s-land of power lines and trailer homes, cafe owner Bettina (Lisbeth Gruwez) and maintenance man Marcus (Sam Louwyck) are hoping to finally tie the knot, all the while trying to keep their wandering 9-year-old daughter (Kimke Desart) out of trouble. When Marcus is critically injured, his Hungarian partner (Zoltan Miklos Hajdu, handsome and effective) replaces him in more ways than one, bringing on a dark and unexpected denouement. Pic’s overuse of closeups, washed-out colors and minimal dialogue undermines the potency of its message.

Lost Persons Area

Belgium-Netherlands-Hungary-Germany

Production

A Minds Meet, Artemis Prods. (Belgium)/De Productie (Netherlands)/Budapest Filmstudio (Hungary), ZDF/Arte & Network Movie (Germany) production. (International sales: Umedia, France.) Produced by Thomas Leyers. Directed, written by Caroline Strubbe.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Nicolas Karakatsanis; editor, Frederic Fichefet; music, Albert Markos; production designer, Igor Gabriel; costume designer, Catherine Van Bree. Reviewed at Cinematheque Francaise, Paris, May 4, 2009. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Critics' Week.) Flemish, English dialogue. Running time: 111 MIN.

With

Lisbeth Gruwez, Sam Louwyck, Kimke Desart, Zoltan Miklos Hajdu, Rik Van Uffelen, Frans De Jong, Ine Pieters, Vincenzo Cardia.

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