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Vinyan
Culture

Vinyan

By Joffre Agnes
06/05/2009

What is the problem with directors? It seems that the theme of suffering that comes from the loss of a child has been haunting their minds for some time, creating dark movies about absence, mourning, hopeless fights… First of all, Clint Eastwood’s superb “Changeling” shows Angelina Jolie’s nightmare crusade against the corrupt police of Los Angeles as she is looking for her vanished son. Then, we could notice Saffy Nebbou’s disturbing “Mark of an Angel” in which Catherine Frot is persuaded Sandrine Bonnaire’s daughter is actually hers who died a few years before... Well, the mood is not exactly lite hearted: Indeed, could you imagine something worse than losing a child? What does this current obsession mean? More than the suffering, the point is the question of a mother’s instinct: all these films emphasize maternal instinct, its strength, its power and also its animalistic side: a subject which has not dried up since Greek tragedies and which has been the basis for the most beautiful stories.

Vinyan
Vinyan

Francis du Welz’s “Vinyan” is in the same vein: Devastated by the loss of their son, Joshua, in the tsunami of 2004, Paul (Rufus Sewell –The Illusionist) and Jeanne Belhmer (Emmanuelle Béart - 8 Femmes) have remained in Thailand. Since his body has never been recovered, they cling frantically to the hope that he has survived. Glimpsing a boy who looks like Joshua in video footage from a village of orphaned children on the Thai-Burmese border, Jeanne becomes convinced that her son was kidnapped by traffickers. Unwilling to shatter his wife’s last hope, Paul remains sceptical as she throws their money at a sinister smuggler who promises to take them by boat into pirate-infested waters to find their son. As they continue their quest through the dark jungle, the traumatized couple is pulled into a primeval hell created by their own obsessions and mutual desperation for some sense of closure.

Vinyan
Vinyan

Emmanuelle Béart
Emmanuelle Béart

The plot is good, the pictures are incredibly beautiful and, since the actors are ace (Emmanuelle Béart is especially impressive, which is a good news after the disappointing “Disco”), it could have been a really good movie but, sadly, it peters out whilst attempting to mix genres. Indeed, “Vinyan” can hardly be labelled: psychological drama, thriller, fantasie film, ghost film or to be more precise ghost film in reverse since here we have the living entering the world of the dead… Well, the project was extremely ambitious or should I say overblown?

Francis du Welz wanted to shoot a nightmare journey into the heart of darkness showing his characters loosing their minds as the situation gets worse. Unhappily I got quickly bored by this hallucinating and fantastic trip which I just could not believe and by constantly trying to work out what was real and what was just hallucinations. The multiplication of visual and sound effects does the rest and the film turns out to be as suffocating as monsoon rain. A pity, since the acting between the two leading actors and the worsening of their couple is extremely subtle.

Vinyan
Vinyan

In fact, the film could be divided into three parts. The first one is the most interesting one, presenting the suffering of the parents, their disagreements about what to do, the strength of mother’s instinct, the impossible mourning of one's young son, the gradual disintegration of a miserable couple, the feeling of being lost in a far-from civilization environment, the whole thing in an atmosphere both fascinating and fear-provoking. But then, when the hunt begins, things turn out to be moving slowly. One village after another, “Vinyan” fails to sustain tension at its higher point, which was the main asset of “Apocalypse Now”. Whatever it might be, it remains good, even though the fantastic twist and its horde of blood-thirsty children make it veer dangerously close to failure... and I won’t say a word about the end.

Vinyan
Vinyan

Some very good ideas but too many challenges to be anything but a tedious experience.

COMMENTS:

06/03/2012 - brunomakson27 said :

, an ex-pat can never be anything but where you're from is part of who you are, and as much as where you live eecombs a stronger part of your identity, it can never completely squash your roots. That said, I'm not sure how long it would take to lose the romantic view of Paris I didn't lose it after four months there and to be honest, I don't think I'd lose it after forty years, although my view would probably be tempered a bit more by reality than that writer's. There's obviously a lot more to any city than the romanticized version of it, but for this particular writer, I'm willing to bet that no matter how long she were to stay there, she'd never see it as anything but the Paris of the movies. It takes a certain kind of personality to see places critically and you could tell from the first sentence that she wouldn't. I guess I saw that going into the article, which is why I was ok with it. It depends on your mood, right? If you want to read something hard-hitting and current and cutting edge about a place, you go to one source, and if you just want to reminisce and romanticize, you go to another.

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