Geronimo: some great Gatlif
by Bénédicte Prot
- CANNES 2014: The art of the Roma director culminates in a wild, sensual film, like a dance dripping in sweat, heart-rending like a flamenco, and simply intoxicating
The Roma director Tony Gatlif cheered the spirits and senses at the Croisette with his new film, Geronimo [+see also:
film profile], on the official programme of the Cannes Film Festival, among the Special Screenings. Admirers of the humanity of Gadjo dilo, and the sensuality of the liberating energy that was already present in his muscial accompaniment, will be whisked away by the new experience offered to us by the director, more intoxicating than ever.
Here he mixes, with undeniable mastery, a panoply of artistic genres (music, dance, theatre sound and lighting...) which he pushes to their limits and which explode in a sprinkling of glitter upon a thrilling tragedy fuelled with exhilirated human emotions, under a burning sun. In this film, colours are contrasted, from violence to despair, from love to losing one's mind. With its sensual mix and its savage beauty (which makes street scenes and fights to the death into real choreographies, more captivating than those of West Side Story, more breath-taking than a feline version of the best fight scene of The Matrix, without the special effects), the film shows off a particular light. The beauty of bodies moving and of the characters as a whole (they are all in fact madly beautiful, magnetic and strong) is just one element: the whole film has this radical power, highlighted effectively by an original soundtrack which is fiercely hybridised and captivating, in which haunting electronic basses mix with frenzied gypsy violins, Spanish laments interspersed with neat claps, rhythms which evoke India, and splendid choirs.
And yet, in this city of South-west France in which the story takes place during the scorching month of August, although everyone lives together, it’s not a question of mixing. So when Nil Tirzi the Turk, whose family have just organised an arranged marriage with a man whose age significantly exceeds the sparkle of her 16 years, gets away from it all with Lucky Molina the gypsy, because they love each other and are not afraid to shout it out loud, it’s a fight to the death that they cause between the two clans, because it is a question of avenging their "honour", a word that is but an empty shell (there is no logic to justify the escalation of violence that we witness) but which, as such, has the monolithic force of some legitimate value. The uncontrollable ineptitude of the fury which begins to rage is entireley contained within the dangerous figure of Fazil Tirzi, one of Nil’s brothers, with his black eyes of a paranoid madman, in which shine the worrying glimmers of the reflection of a dagger blade.
And then, in the midst of this dance, which brings to mind the crescendo of the unrelenting bowings of the Montagues and Capulets of Prokofiev, a solitary figure emerges: that of Geronimo the educator (Céline Sallette), called the Catalan, who, with her Apache name, appears as a saint. By refusing to take sides, Geronimo takes sides for everyone – for love, against the vengeful cycle which will destroy everyone, all of these people, who, in their boiling racial mix, are one world, and that is the essence of its enormous beauty. If Geronimo knows how to reach everyone, it’s because all of these people, all of these communities, these cultures, these types of music, are part of her – she unites them, and therein lies, in a certain way, the subject of this magificent mosaic, this film. Thus, light and hope, which the film constantly holds on to, appear in the blue of her crystal gaze.
(Translated from French)