The Black Beach

A ponderous fable about sweeping political change and sorely tested allegiences, "The Black Beach" is a film so heavy the viewer needs a forklift to rise from his seat afterward. Too tethered to literary notions, despite a carefully lit and lensed visual universe, pic helmed by vet thesp Michel Piccoli settles for illustrating the heebie-jeebies instead of creating characters to care about.

With:
With: Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Dominique Blanc, Jade Fortineau, Teresa Budzisz-Krzyanowska, Ignacy Gogolewski

A ponderous fable about sweeping political change and sorely tested allegiences set in an unspecified but creepy land, “The Black Beach” is a film so heavy the viewer needs a forklift to rise from his seat afterward. Too tethered to literary notions, despite a carefully lit and lensed visual universe, second pic helmed by vet thesp Michel Piccoli settles for illustrating the heebie-jeebies of awaiting exit visas in a sinister administrative limbo instead of creating characters to care about.

When his country puts an end to years of dictatorship, writer and political activist A (Jerzy Radziwilowicz) stays behind while his French wife Sylvie (Dominique Blanc) returns to Paris to publish articles about the fledgling democracy. As a result, Sylvie is bannned from ever setting foot in her husband’s country and A and their daughter Joyce (Jade Fortineau) are stranded together. Laying low in A’s childhood house by the titular beach, A — who was once subjected to a mock execution — tries to retain his equlibrium in a landscape where friends and associates are subject to genuine execution. Deliberately and unrelentingly oppressive venture intends to tackle big issues — political fallout, loyalty, romance and parenthood under duress — but succeeds only in fits and starts.

The Black Beach

France-Portugal-Switzerland-Poland

Production: A Gemini Films release (in France) of a Gemini Films (France), Madragoa Films (Portugal), Filmograph (Switzerland), Heritage Films (Poland), Television Suisse Romande, SRG SSR Co., Idee Suisse co-production with participation of Canal Plus (France), CNC, DFI, ICAM, RTP, Telewizja Polska. (International sales: Gemini Films, Paris). Producer, Paulo Branco. Directed by Michel Piccoli. Screenplay, Ludivine Clerc, Piccoli, based on the novelistic account by Francois Maspero.

Crew: Camera (color), Sabine Lancelin; editor, Catherine Quesemand; production designers, Dorota Ignaczak, Isabel Branco; costume designer, Catherine Gorne-Achdjian; sound (Dolby), Brigitte Tallandier, Jean-Claude Laureux, Hanz Kunzi. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Critics' Week, Special Presentation), May 10, 2001. Original title: La plage noire.Running time: 114 MIN.

With: With: Jerzy Radziwilowicz, Dominique Blanc, Jade Fortineau, Teresa Budzisz-Krzyanowska, Ignacy Gogolewski

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