Saturday, September 08, 2007


Xavier Gens | 2007 | 108 min. | France

Frontière(s) is the debut feature of Xavier Gens, who's already wrapping up his next film; a Hollywood adaptation of the video game, Hitman. It's easy to see why Gens is already "made it" in Hollywood. Frontière(s) has scenes that are super-charged with breakneck kineticism, whacked out characters, and inventively hard violence.

A group of friends (sort of) commit a robbery, and flee from a riot ridden Paris in order to escape the law. Unfortunately they wind up in a motel run by a "family" of murderous nazis, who're friendly enough until someone calls one of the girls at the hotel a 'whore'. After that... Hospitality goes out the window, and vicious brutality says 'hello'.

As well made as the film is, it takes from other films a little too liberally. The main elements are from Haute Tension, The Texas Chainsaw Masacre, and Hostel (as much as I'm tired of hearing it as reference point for every horror film lately). Because of the influence Gens has taken from other films, Frontière(s) rarely feels like its own movie, outside of some of its stellar gore scenes, which are worth the price of admission, just not enough to make it a great film.

The editing in the early section of the film is distractingly quick-cutting, with as many as 4 cuts in a second, but it settles down eventually. Even still, it could have used a much more ruthless edit to shorten the film a bit. At 108 minutes, it feels well over two hours long. What would most likely be wrongly cut down in that process though, are the incredible performances from Samuel Le Bihan (Brotherhood of the Wolf), and its heroine, Karina Testa (who gets the hottest haircut). Le Bihan is so intimidating, and Testa so vulnerable and willing to look like a shaken idiot when the film requires her to.

Xavier Gens is a really talented director, and for his first feature to be this well put together, and make the big jump to Hollywood so quickly, hopefully he'll make many great films in the future. This just isn't one of them.

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