Ivul

"Good"

Ivul Review


Even more difficult and artistic than Kotting's This Filthy Earth, at least this fairy tale-style drama isn't pretentious. It's gorgeously shot and acted with raw authenticity, but the narrative is difficult to engage with.

Alex Ivul (Auzanneau) is a rebelling against the very idea of growing up, mainly because it means he can't be as physically close to his teen sister Freya (Leroux). After his father (Bideau) has a furious reaction to their suggestive play-acting, Alex climbs on the roof and vows to never touch the ground again. As Freya is sent to Russia to find a husband, Alex lives in the trees, making their mother (Petit) sick with worry. And things get worse when their father has a stroke.

Kotting's filmmaking skills are considerable. The cinematography is sharp and evocative, capturing the characters' inner moods as the seasons change around them. And the sound mix is an astonishing blend of ambient noise, atonal effects and music that drifts from jaunty to haunting in a split second. All of this combines to keep us nicely off balance; the film is never boring even though we often feel like we're missing the point.

Clearly, Kotting is both quoting and subverting classic storytelling with this tale of stubborn men and the women they torment. There's a strong sense of the natural world in the woods around the Ivul family's sprawling house. As their father says, it's the trees that best characterise a civilisation, because "old men plant trees knowing that they will never rest in their shade". These layers of meaning aren't lost on us, But even with vivid, believable acting, the film never resolves into a singular narrative.

By never developing a point of view, Kotting leaves the film feeling extremely fragmented. And yet we can identify with Alex's wilful quest, futile as it might be, and his playful Tarzan/Robin Hood adventures. More powerful is the way we identify with the mother's spiralling despair and Freya's increasing desperation. And more texture is added by Tchili's inarticulate handyman, who seems like a fringe player in every scene, and the adorable Aubriot sisters as much-younger siblings. So watching this family come unglued is rather wrenching, even if we're not quite sure what Kotting is trying to say.



Ivul

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 20th January 2010

Distributed by: Sciapode

Production compaines: Sciapode, Box Productions, Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains, Télévision Suisse-Romande (TSR)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Andrew Kotting

Producer: Emilie Blezat

Starring: Jacob Auzanneau as Alex, Adélaïde Leroux as Freya, as Ivul, Aurélia Petit as Freya, Xavier Tchili as Lek, Capucine Aubriot as Capucine, Manon Aubriot as Manon

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