Fabrice Du Welz | 2008 | 96 min | France, Belgium
One word: infuckingcredible. I don't know if that counts as one word, BUT IT STANDS. Six months after their young son Joshua was lost in the tsunami, a married couple (Emmanuelle Béart and Rufus Sewell) travels to Burma with a smuggler who promises he can find the boy. The smuggler plies them with stories of a white child having been seen in far flung villages, but it soon becomes evident that they are being exploited. As they are pushed deeper into the jungle, delirium begins to take over and everyone heads into Heart of Darkness territory.
Like Fabrice Du Welz's previous feature Calvaire, Vinyan looks at the horror of being lost in unfamiliar terrain, physically and emotionally. And like that first movie, I am sure that "haunting" is the word I will use most often to describe Vinyan. Du Welz again uses cinematographer Benoît Debie and Super 16mm film to great effect. Vinyan is stunning throughout. Even the abstracted opening sequence is so mesmerizing that I probably would have been happy to be submerged in those sights and sounds for the entire run of the film.
The film is loaded with moments that leave one feeling simultaneously shocked and disturbed. The sound design conspires in delivering several literally hair-raising sequences, and Béart and Sewell deliver perfect on-the-precipice performances. It is far more ambitious and genre-bending than one would expect from a director's second feature, but I think Vinyan pulls it off.
And good news for both Du Welz and audiences: As of yesterday, Sony Pictures has acquired the distribution rights to Vinyan. Hopefully this means we will be seeing a bit of a theatrical run prior to the DVD release. Until then, Vinyan is screening again this afternoon and next Friday evening at TIFF. Check the details here.