Going South and back into the past
by Boyd van Hoeij
18/02/2010 - French filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz’s third feature, Going South [trailer], continues the obsession with the evanescence of youth and the fluidity of sexuality that the director explored in his two previous features, Come Undone and Wild Side. The film is part of the Panorama section here in Berlin.
Though the pensive main protagonist, Sam, played by Yannick Renier, is in his late twenties and has had a troubled past, the young hitchhikers he’s takes with his on his trip from France to Spain are careless, good-looking youths that almost make Sam forget about the painful reason he is on the road in the first place.
Belgian actor Renier (Love Songs [trailer]; Private Property [trailer]) impresses with his stone-faced turn as the unreadable Sam, who only really comes to life when he’s reached his final destination in Spain, his mother (Nicole Garcia, in an equally impressive cameo). To counter the gloom of Sam’s character, Lifshitz fills his beat-up Ford with three younger free spirits. After her reigned-in turn as a religious aide in Lourdes, French starlet Léa Seydoux burns up the screen as the sexy Léa. Her gay brother Matthieu (Théo Frillet) and the drifter Jérémie (Pierre Perrier), who Léa picks up at a supermarket, complete the trio.
Sexy and sunny but with darker undercurrents and unresolved issues playing out in the background, Going South feels very much like a Lifshitz film. The actors’ work is key in setting the atmospheres and the quick mood shifts, with the cinematography closely following the characters.