Tue, 24 Jul 2012 3:41p.m.
By Daniel Rutledge
Rebellion is a superb film and I’m happy to say my favourite of the 2012 NZ International Film Festival so far.
It is a dramatic re-telling of the 1988 Ouvéa cave hostage taking incident in New Caledonia. Told from the perspective of French special forces captain Philippe Legorjus, Rebellion is the tragic tale of his efforts to peacefully negotiate with the hostage takers being thwarted by the army and government in favour of an inevitable bloodbath.
Director Mathieu Kassovitz crashed into my consciousness with the brilliant La Haine. Following a collection of underprivileged youths involved in anti-police brutality riots in Paris, there was much to love about that film. Kassovitz’ ability to balance art film aesthetics with a gritty real-world feel meant it carried an enormous, visceral impact.
Despite various missteps since La Haine such as the abysmal Babylon A.D., Kassovitz is definitely back to his best with Rebellion. His eye for what makes an interesting shot is a little more restrained in Rebellion than it was with La Haine, but to simply call it ‘well filmed’ is an enormous understatement. I found Rebellion to be so impeccably filmed that it was almost distracting and if the story wasn't so captivating, this could easily have been a problem. Fortunately, it’s a deeply moving, engaging true story I knew nothing about, told expertly well.
To his credit, Kassovitz avoids ‘documentary style’ filming for much of the running time. He opts instead for a more classical approach, while still keeping things interesting with occasional flourishes such as having the camera slowly zoom into, or continuously circle around, a conversation. Later in the film we see the military assault, and Kassovitz changes up his shooting style dramatically to emphasize the intensity. The camera advances frantically with the troops largely in one long take, resulting in one of the best war sequences since the opening of Saving Private Ryan.
The DCP projected onto the Civic screen at the session I attended also looked incredibly good, making the greens of the New Caledonian jungle really pop out.
The cast all deliver solid performances, especially Kassovitz himself in the lead.
I’m not sure who scored Rebellion, but their work echoes Abigail Mead’s on Full Metal Jacket, which I appreciate immensely. The dark, atmospheric, muted synth drums and percussion added another layer of enjoyment.
And then there’s the emotional punch of Rebellion. The plight of a people colonized by a powerful military force ruthlessly stamping out dissent is universally moving and with New Caledonia being one of our close Pacific cousins, it will be especially so for many Kiwis.
I don’t think many people will share my passion for it quite so strongly, but Rebellion is easily one of my favourite films of the year so far.
:: Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
:: Starring: Mathieu Kassovitz, Iabe Lapacas, Malik Zidi, Daniel Martin
:: Running Time: 136 mins
:: Rating: M- violence, offensive language
:: More information: Click here
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