Frontier of Dawn

"Very Good"

Frontier of Dawn Review


In Frontier of Dawn, Philippe Garrel's transfixing follow-up to Regular Lovers, love means being obsessed and obsession is a form of love. At least that's the idea you get from watching how it chronicles a young photographer (Louis Garrel, the director's lean son) who begins with a doomed affair with an actress (the radiant Laura Smet) and ends in an agonizing state of fatalism with a baby on the way. Melancholy, it would seem, is the elder Garrel's native tongue.

Shot in beautiful, shadowy black-and-white and set primarily, as was his previous film, in the hallways and empty rooms of Parisian apartments, Frontier immediately flirts with the romance and nostalgia of the nouvelle vague. This is not completely surprising as Garrel is perhaps the most unsung hero of that particular movement, only seeing a renewed interest upon the release of Lovers in 2006. But unlike a great deal of his other work, Frontier features bouts of picaresque fantasy that are reminiscent of Bresson and Dreyer.

When Carole (Smet) first meets Francois (Garrel), he is simply taking her photograph. He will never shoot a satisfactory picture of her; how can the camera ever see her as he does? Despite having a husband stuck playing cinematographer to a Hollywood director, Carole begins an affair with Francois and revels in lazy, philosophical ramblings of love and politics with him. It won't be until later, after they've fallen for one another and put each other through tortures and embarrassments the likes of which only a lover could supply, that Carole will check herself into a mental institution.

Just as pretentious as its title, Frontier of Dawn never graces the brilliant heights of Regular Lovers, nor does it have the emotional undertow of Garrel's early masterwork I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar. Like his entire oeuvre, however, the film does have a very personal language to it and it seems like, even now, Garrel is still working through his tumultuous romance with Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico.

Not long after being released from the mental hospital, and being rejected by Francois, Carole overdoses and dies, reappearing as a ghost in her beloved's mirror. Francois' new and relatively similar romance with Eve (Clémentine Poidatz) yields an unexpected child, a dose of reality that only doubles the young man's obsession with his lost lover. It's only after a visit with Eve's father (an excellent Olivier Massart) that Francois becomes obsessed with his own mortality.

Much of the film's first three-quarters is dedicated to Smet's delicate face and enticing figure. Garrel often lets the camera simply focus on her rolling on the floor or drunkenly making her way down a corridor. Like Francois, Garrel's camera is in an absolute state of love and the imagery, which Garrel shaped with the great cinematographer William Lubtchansky, as elemental and haunting as his devotion. Like few other directors, Garrel has mastered a own very personal tone that makes even a minor work such as this feel essential and vital. Some may think that such a startlingly faithful ideal of love renders Frontier absurd; others may find the very weight of lost love, transformative and transcendental, laid to rest on their shoulders.

Aka La frontière de l'aube.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Philippe Garrel

Producer:

Starring: as François, Clémentine Poidatz as Ève, as Carol, Jérôme Robart as François' friend

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.