The Beasts

Antoine and Olga

Spanish director Rodrigo Sorogoyen reportedly said he wanted to make The Beasts (As Bestas, in Spanish) “as a western”. To a large extent that’s what he’s done. This is like a western where two opposing and implacable forces square off in a lawless milieu. John Ford might have made this, back in the day. If he had I wonder how much shorter he’d have made it. The story it tells is a true one, of a Dutch couple moving to a remote Spanish village to start a new life, then falling out badly with their neighbours until one day a moment of reckoning arrives. For the factual account, the true-crime documentary Santoalla (2015) … Read more

Peter von Kant

Denis Ménochet and Isabelle Adjani

François Ozon’s Peter von Kant is both a remake and a restoration of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. A remake because it takes exactly the same story and retells it in pretty much the same way, except with the genders flipped. A restoration because it peels away a layer of obfuscation added by Fassbinder to the original, to reveal where he was really coming from. In the 1972 original, Petra (Margit Carstensen) was a dreadfully self-centred designer waited on hand and foot by an entirely silent servant (Irm Hermann). One day Petra is introduced to a pretty young thing called Karin (Hanna Schygulla) and instantly totally loses her … Read more

Only the Animals

Evelyne and the hopelessly smitten Marion

Dominik Moll’s latest film, Only the Animals (Seules les Bêtes), opens with a striking shot of an African man cycling along the road wearing a live kid goat on his back much as you would a rucksack, arms and legs for straps. But from there we leave the titular animals behind and enter the all-too-human realm. We’re up in the snowy heights of France in winter, where an optimistic insurance agent (Laure Calamy, of Call My Agent fame) is having an affair with Joseph (Damien Bonnard) one of her clients, a recently bereaved soul who leads a silent solitary life. The woman’s truculent oaf of a husband (Denis Ménochet) gets wind of the … Read more