Calvaire means ordeal and that provides a reasonable indication of what it's all about. The main issue at stake is how this ordeal should be interpreted. There is a chance that your neighbour will gaze at you in amazement, maybe even in anger, if you see humour where he is mainly aware of shocking nihilism. As indicated, it's a matter of interpretation, but provisionally we can recommend Calvaire as a (very) black comedy. Traveling entertainer Marc Stevens (Laurent Lucas, known from his role in Tiresia among other films) has difficulty keeping the ladies at bay in a retirement home in the French Ardennes. So, despite the terrible weather, he sets off one dark day before Christmas and takes a wrong turn. Every film lover knows what that means: a confrontation with less desirable elements in society. The inn keeper who offers shelter to the unfortunate singer regards him as a replacement for his missing (?) wife and the villagers display an unhealthy interest when they hear rumours of 'her' return. The camerawork is by Benoît Debie, who also shot Gaspar Noé's Irréversible and Hadzihalilovic's Innocence (see that entry), and that guarantees the right gritty 1970s mood (indeed, that of Deliverance, Straw Dogs or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre). Produced by the La Parti crew, who brought us Aaltra last year. (GT)

International title
The Ordeal
Filmmaker
Fabrice Du Welz
Premiere
-
Country
Belgium, France
Year
2004
Medium
35mm
Length
94’
Language
French
Producer
La Parti
Sales
Funny Balloons
Writer
Fabrice Du Welz
Cast
Philippe Nahon, Jackie Berroyer, Laurent Lucas