Grandrieux's Sombre was one of the most striking and uncompromising French features of recent years. His long awaited follow up arguably goes even further in its exploration of dislocation, darkness and human extremes. The setting is the new Eastern Europe, Sofia to be exact, where a young American falls for a prostitute/stripper/chanteuse, and pursues her through after hours clubs and down darkened hotel corridors into a hellish underworld of violence and obsession. La vie nouvelle is nightmarish not just in its subject matter but in its execution too; using extreme fragmentation, a disorienting shooting style and a claustrophobic soundtrack, together with the absolute minimum of dialogue, Grandrieux pushes his narrative to the edge of abstraction and invites us to negotiate our own way through the film's anxious labyrinth. La vie nouvelle's oblique vision exists in parallel with the new European cinema of Bela Tarr, Fred Kelemen and Sharunas Bartas, while its aesthetic of dislocation reminds us of the confrontational tactics of arch controversialist Gaspar Noé. Some will see La vie nouvelle as a mystificatory recycling of familiar sex death and madness fantasies. Whether you find it challenging, dazzling or contentious, La vie nouvelle with its stark blueprint for a cinéma nouveau demands to be seen. Jonathan Romney writes for the Independent on Sunday, Sight and Sound and Film Comment.

International title
A New Life
Filmmaker
Philippe Grandrieux
Premiere
-
Country
France
Year
2002
Medium
35mm
Length
102’
Language
French
Producer
Maïa Films, L Films, Catherine Jacques
Sales
Wild Bunch