Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Slack Bay - absurd, funny, French film that could be a word of mouth hit

I think I may have a new contender for film of the year.

Slack Bay. It’s French. It’s absurd. And it’s very funny.

Set in 1910, the bourgeois Van Peteghem family make their annual summer pilgrimage to an old house that overlooks a north coast bay.

It’s such a routine visit that they no longer fully appreciate the view. If they did look out the window, or turn their cliff top deckchairs towards the oyster pickers working in the low tide, they might have noticed that people are beginning to go missing with an alarming regularity.

Directed by Bruno Dumont, the humour is both dark and visual. Ma Loute (Brandon Lavieville) is the eldest child of the bay’s ferryman who has a reputation for rescuing souls in peril out at sea. The child and his father have an unorthodox method of carrying people across the bay, though that’s nowhere near as surprising as the delicacies the mother serves up in their ramshackle home, morsels that are worthy of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen.

There’s a touch of inter-class romance as Billie Can Peteghem (Raph) catches the eye of Ma Loute, but not all is what it seems, and this upstairs-downstairs coupling again is nothing when compared to other familial revelations. Religious fervour is added to the mix along with a couple of bumbling detectives who throw themselves across the sand dunes like clowns to investigate the disappearances before coming across all Mary Poppins. Throw in an ensemble cast that includes Juliette Binoche playing a highly strung sister and you have a cinematic winner.

Slack Bay isn’t being screened in Belfast … yet. But it’s a great summer film that could be a word of mouth hit.

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