Frenchman Bruno Dumont has previously written and directed 5 feature films all I am told border somewhere between realistic drama and the avant-garde and most have picked up prizes at various film festivals. Hors Satan (2011), his 6th film, is set in a bleak, thinly populated, hauntingly beautiful corner of Pas de Calais Boulogne a place so beautiful it almost hides the violence we witness as the films narrative unfolds. It tackles good and evil suggesting that Christ and Satan are possible different sides of the same coin?
We have two main protagonists one called ‘The Guy’ and the other called ‘The Girl’ who are played by non professional actors David Dewade and Alexandra Lematre who it must be admitted are totally impossible to read. The Guy is a man who appears to have strange powers that may emanate from either heaven or hell, but its never made clear. In fact there are a lot of things that are not made clear! He lives rough with no visible means of support and gets his nourishment from strangers, he has a boyish looking girl friend, The Girl, who he refuses to have sex with and won’t even kiss her. There life together consists of long walks in the countryside and very little else. But when The Girl intimates that her stepfather is abusing her, The Guy shots and kills him. When he finds out that a local land preservation guard is propositioning her he beats him near to death. Other strange happenings involve a hitchhiker and the treatment of a sick young girl.
With its completely natural sound track and its minimal dialog this surreal film is pure cinema, but one you may find difficult to warm to, it’s intriguing more so than its enjoyable. Dewade’s character brings to mind Terence Stamps character in Pasoline’s Theorem (1968) and Enrique Irazoqul haunting portrayal of Christ in his The Gospel According to St Matthew (1964). But for some reason that I can’t fathom, probable something to do with the fact I can’t get this movie out of my head, I would recommend you seek out this somewhat different viewing experience.