Sunday, April 22, 2018

Modern-day Corsica comes to life (and death) in Thierry de Peretti's dark A VIOLENT LIFE

A VIOLENT LIFE, the new film from actor-turned-director Thierry de Peretti (shown below, who also directed and co-wrote Apaches), is, as was M. de Peretti's previous movie, all about the Mediterranean island of Corsica (located just above Sardinia and pretty much midway between Italy and France) -- a very short history of which is given us via the film's opening title cards.

This history tells us that the island was purchased by France (but not from whom: the Republic of Genoa) in 1768.

While France still owns and "rules" the island today, as a territorial collectivity, Corsica supposedly enjoys greater autonomy than some other French-controlled regions. This remains colonialism nonetheless, and so the island has been plagued or (depending on one's viewpoint) enriched ever since by it own nationalist movements which rise to the surface every so often, encouraged, as the title cards also inform us, by Corsica's young people -- mostly, as we shall see, by its young male population. With a single exception, these young men are heavy-duty macho numbskulls who then grow, as adults, into even more violent and stupid versions of their younger selves.

That "exception" would be the film's hero and main character, a young man named Stéphane (Jean Michelangeli, above), who seems initially intelligent and thoughtful but also clearly in thrall to many of his friends and relatives, younger and older. The movie is filled with conversations, philosophical and political, and while this is interesting enough, it soon begins to seem that for all these Corsicans' efforts toward would-be independence, no one knows what the fuck he (or anybody else involved) is actually doing or achieving.

Part of the problem with the movie is that it will very difficult for most audiences, even as it is for the characters themselves, to know what is going on and why. For whatever reason, the main character seems to be OK with this. (Perhaps he is so used to this being the case that nothing any longer surprises him.)

We watch and listen as the film moves back and forth in time and characters kill and/or are murdered, bombs are planted (some go off, others -- intentionally -- do not), and nothing at all is achieved. One might be forgiven for thinking that perhaps French rule isn't so terrible after all. (And this, from someone who professes to hate colonialism!)

Along the way  subjects are raised that are always worth thinking about -- "moral limits," for instance. And the film's cast of (for TrustMovies, at least) unknown newcomers is, to a man and woman, talented and believable. Toward the end, there a wonderful scene between what my spouse called "The Real Housewives of Corsica," in which the women finally get their chance to spout ideas and beliefs. The result is eye-opening, funny, and almost as disturbing (but not quite) as what we've seen and heard from the men.

Early on, when one character notes, "They'll come down heavy on us!" you may ask yourself, Who the fuck are they? By the end, you are still asking this question because the groups and sub-groups involved in all this seem beyond understanding -- at least in any manner useful to the "cause."

As sad and depressing as A Violent Life is, I'm still glad I saw it -- if only to be able to try to understand (and then fail at it) just a bit more about the Corsican "situation." The movie ends with our hero finally talking to a journalist, insisting that his real name be used, and then accepting the inevitable, whatever might occur. Of course, he and we know very well what this will likely be.

From Distrib Films US and being released to DVD via Icarus Films Home Video, the movie -- in French (and maybe some Corsican dialect) with English subtitles and running 107 minutes, hits the street this coming Tuesday, April 24 -- for purchase or rental.

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