RESTER VERTICAL — CANNES 2016
Cannes, France —Alain Guiraudie’s purposefully confounding foray into surreal queer allegory breathes with ferocity. It may not be the grounded film that its title (“Staying Vertical”) projects, but the film hits you in the guts nonetheless.
Naturalism and magically charged artificiality come together through actors whose unconventional faces evince a post-apocalyptic reality. Leo (Damien Bonnard) is a footloose screenwriter more busy milking money from his script sponsor than doing any writing for his deadline. While walking across a wide pasture Leo meets Marie, a horny shepherdess who employs Leo in her sensual service. Leo takes up residence in Marie’s farmhouse with her homosexual father (Raphael Thiery) and her three sons. Marie suffers a monster post-partum depression after giving birth to another boy. Leo isn’t cut out for fatherhood; he intentionally leaves the baby in his car while he goes off for a chat.
Guiraudie overleverages the story into a climax scene involving homosexual necrophilia that is sure to elevate “Rester Vertical” to instant cult status. The filmmaker never lets his actors express emotions. Everyone is poker faced to the point of boredom. A film made of up disparate elements, however abstract, does not a movie make.
Still, “Rester Vertical” arrived as a welcome provocation to the films in competition for the 2016 Palme d’Or.
Not Rated. 100 mins. (C+) (Two stars — out of five / no halves)