Drifts over the edge of an abyss
by Anne Feuillère
- The directorial debut of Stefan Liberski is a pessimistic yet entrancing film about perversions created by our modern society and its ideology. When money digs into hollowness...
Swinging to the rhythm of a music like a long and terse heart beat, the Bunker is immersed into a long and endless night, a gloomy and dark celebration supposed to last several days without interruption. A white and lacklustre external light sometimes pierces through the curtains or dazzle those that venture outside, dazed and pale like vampires on the verge of disappearing under the bright daylight. By a piece of bad luck, a handsome young man (Vincent Vincentelli) who studies comedy but lives off his wages as a cab driver, gets lost in that dreamlike space between city and forest. There, he falls in love with a Juliet (Audrey Marnay) with a cruel smile on her face, the ‘fiancee’ of the landlord (Jean-Paul Rouve, possessed and superb, giving a unique performance ) who puts together a sterile and depressing show in that timeless space where everyone is floating and being filmed by a lascivious steadycam. With his loyal court jester (Bouli Lanners, pathetic and wonderful) that he ridicules, John Deveau rules over those rich but disillusioned youngsters, fascinated by him because he fears no-one and dares saying anything. And he subjects them to all his desires and terrorises them with his shouts. The handsome Mimmo is also drawn by this prince of darkness. Until the final outcome during a beautiful shooting party under the snow.
In Bunker Paradise [+see also:
interview: Stefan Liberski
film profile], Stefan Liberski shoots what would be our ideal modern society with its perversions, but the film is not so much a minute description of class struggle but a timeless and dreamlike fairy tale and a parable. Like a slightly naive Alice, Mimmo has gone to the other side of the mirror in the enchanted but cruel land of spoilt children. John Deveau is a romantic and dark character that talks a lot on a stage where his own fall is enacted. Behind him is a father, cutting like a blade, who has bought his son’s disappearance and silence and who reinvents the myth of Dracula. Like a sun beam in this dark journey through the night, a child is seen walking in Japan and his presence comes knocking at the story at regular intervals like a troubadour ballad. That vision of Japan is present in a drawing in the bunker, in Laetitia’s desires, in a dinner downtown and follows the storyline, leaving its obscure message like a diurnal element in a dream. The action progresses with resounding and threatening repetitions, just enough for the storyline to develop in the shuttles between the city and the bunker, the angel and the demon, the here of our world and the overthere of Japan. In this world always at dusk made of scenes re-shot, temporal ellipses, scenes closed with fade-outs, Bunker Paradise is weightless, applying several layers of symbols like in a dream (spycho-analytical and political readings, tragedy and fairytale, literary abnd biblical myths) and its visual and ringing rhymes in the verses of a melancholic and twilight rondo.
Bunker Paradise is produced by Patrice Quinet for Artémis Productions -his own Belgian production company- and by its French sister company Liaison cinématographique and co-produced by the French Michel Propper (MP Productions) and Belgian TV channels RTBF and BeTV. Other co-financiers include satellite TV TPS and EuropaCorp, and the film was supported by the Film and Audiovisual Centre of the Communauté française de Belgique as well as by Télédistributeurs wallons, Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds, Wallimages, and the MEDIA Programme. Domestic distribution in Belium is handled by Cinéart-Cinélibre.
(Translated from French)