Fort Buchanan: the leisurely wives' club
by Alfonso Rivera
- Visual artist Benjamin Crotty moves onto feature films to depict a community where the partners of soldiers destined for the front line reside
Benjamin Crotty, born in 1979 in the US, but trained and settled in France, makes his debut as a forward looking director with Fort Buchanan [+see also:
film profile] which, after being selected by Locarno, is now part of the New Waves section of the 11th edition of the Seville European Film Festival. The director, together with his producer, Judith Lou Lévy, travelled to the Andalusian city to screen a Franco-Tunisian film that examines the behaviour of a particularly idle community, given to enjoying evenings in the countryside, exercising and chatting at length about their perpetual longing for their husband soldiers destined for the front line.
We have never in film seen such a peculiar place from a no less extraordinary perspective. We might recall From here to Eternity or even Reflections in a golden eye, in which the officers ' wives sought comfort among the battle worn troop. Crotty doesn't take his characters ' conflicts too seriously and prefers to make us smile. We become infected by the dolce far niente that reigns in the colourful movie scenes, illustrated with a refined photography by Michaël Capron.
Therein we see how Roger (the handsome Andy Gillet) is controlled by his rebellious adopted daughter, severely troubled by adolescence, while husband, Frank (David Baiot) is on the front line. We are in a time in which homo and heterosexual couple live together in tolerant harmony within a traditionally antiquated and close minded institution, the army. Thus Roger, wearing towels on his head in Lana Turner turban style, is like just another wife, chatty and mischievous in a kind of social club where the compulsory sexual abstinence pushes more than one to seek comfort among their companions, as happens with three beautiful young maids, the groups' personal trainer or even Roger's daughter. Meanwhile, an elderly lady is the great matriarch who, with her wise advice, will add some experience to all that chat tainted by lack of affection and an excess of nostalgia for their male partners.
Divided into the four seasons, this tragic comedy uses nouvelle vague visual style but does so with dialogues typical of American TV series: thus, some scenes remain frozen, like in a 70s French film. Filmed in 16 mm., for 15 days over two consecutive years, between the Tunisian desert and the forests of the Alsace-Lorraine region, with scenery by French designer Matali Crasset, the movies leisurely atmosphere creates a pop world somewhat reminiscent of Éric Rohmers movies that converts Fort Buchanan into a hedonistic film. It's sexy, modern, daring and decisively ground breaking. Produced by Les films du bal in association with Le vent des forêts, Godolphin Films and My New Picture.
(Translated from Spanish)