Wednesday, February 14, 2007

L'enfer lacks subtlety

L'enfer (Hell) is the second installment of the "Heaven, Hell, Purgatory" trilogy conceived by the late Krzystof Kieslowski and his long-term screen writing partner Krzystof Piesiewicz.

Unfortunately, when Kieslowski died in March 1996, only the script of Heaven (later directed by Tom Tykwer) was largely finished. The script of Hell was written by Piesiewicz, in consultation with Agnieszka Lipiec Wroblewska.

Danis Tanovic, whose first feature-length film No Man's Land won him an Oscar and a Golden Globe for the best foreign language film, directed this project.

Hell looks very much like a Kieslowski film - the multi-layered plot, destiny vs. coincidence, colour-coded cinematography, an old woman trying to put a glass bottle into the recycling bin, you name it - but what it lacks is subtlety.

- The opening sequence involving bird hatching and the eggs
- The Professor's lecture on destiny versus coincidence
- Anne's elaboration of the allegory of Medea

It gives me the impression that the director and screen writer try their very best to make sure that you understand the film.

Of the three sisters, the story of the loveless and lifeless Celine is in one way the most successful, but in another way the most absurd. Celine's misunderstanding of the intention of the stranger, who eventually would reveal the truth behind her family tragedy, was handled in a farcical way I think.

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Trivia: Emmanuelle Beart, who played the eldest sister Sophie in L'enfer, also starred in the 1994 film of the same title, directed by Claude Chabrol. In the earlier L'enfer, the husband was paranoid about the wife's infidelity. In the later L'enfer, it was the other way round.