The Lord's Ride

84 minutes

There's little wonder that French artist and director Jean-Charles Hue's second feature has created a stir among critics. Originally a multimedia artist, mr. Hue has been moving towards more conventional storytelling filmmaking through his regular work with a close-knit community of French travellers known as "yéniches" (to whom he found he was distantly related). La BM du Seigneur is a fictional take on a true event from the life of its "star", Fred Dorkel, and the fiction/documentary hybrid the film pursues has become a festival staple in the past few years, pushing the boundaries of traditional narrative cinema.
     However, mr. Hue's film, though with many merits, isn't yet the trailblazer the cinéma du réel genre needs, mostly for the same reasons that have failed other genre entries such as Bahman Ghobadi's No One Knows About Persian Cats or Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel's La Pivellina. That is, a stronger, firmer hand on the documentary side of the film and the sense that the fictional framework is trying to box in a story that refuses to fit and can't be contained. Set in and around the trailer park yéniche community of Beauvais, La BM du Seigneur starts by laying down the rhythms of daily life before inserting its stakes: the sudden religious epiphany of strongman mr. Dorkel, pushing him to choose between renouncing crime or providing for his family.
     Mr. Hue paints an intriguing picture of the community's close-knit ranks and its contradictions, visible in their devout evangelical faith. But the film is clearly divided in two halves - the documentary set-up, then the fictional pay-off - and despite the director's occasionally striking visuals (his rotating, unsettling pans come to mind), the film works better as a record of the community's boisterous relationships than as a structured narrative where too much is left unexplained.

Starring Frédéric Dorkel, Joseph Dorkel "Jo" (junior), Joseph Dorkel (senior).
     Directed and written by Jean-Charles Hue; produced by Axel Guyot; director of photography (colour, Arane Gulliver processing), Chloé Robert; art director, Christophe Simonnet; film editor, Isabelle Proust.
     A Les Films d'Avalon presentation of an Axel Guyot production, with the support of Picardy Region, French National Centre for Cinema and the Animated Image, Images of Diversity Fund, PROCIREP and ANGOA; with the participation of Cosmodigital and Dokan Post-Production; with the help of Picardy Regional Film Commission. (French distributor and world sales, Capricci Films.)
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2011 official selection advance DVD screener, Lisbon, May 5th 2011.


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