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CANNES 2005 Critic's Week

The great ecstasy of Robert Carmichael : A Thomas Clay who shocks


The British filmmaker Thomas Clay, 26 years old and looking like Stanley Kubrick, stroke a decisive blow during the Critic’s Week where his first feature film The great ecstasy of Robert Carmichael was presented yesterday. Proving a remarkable visual maturity thanks to the work of the famous cinematographer Yorgos Arvanitis, Thomas Clay nevertheless provoked booing and repulsion from a good many of the spectators due to the free and unbearable violence in the end of the film. However, its meticulous description of the drug and boredom spiral which will lead three teenagers from a small British coast town, and in particular the introverted Robert Carmichael, in a monstrous barbarian act, reveals an incredibly talented author.

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Mixing many influences that he greatly commands (A Clockwork Orange, Les chiens de paille, Boogie Nights, even Michael Haneke, Ken Loach and still many others such as Clouzot who is also quoted), the filmmaker makes an attempt of metaphor between war at a large scale – World War II and Irak – and individual explosive violence caused by frustrations. A questionable parallel which explores the light frontier between Good and Evil which perfectly works thanks to Thomas Clay’s cinematographic sense who plays on time dilation and slowly builds his characters. A realistic universe dealt with a very personal mode and beautiful shots that ends up in a polemical atmosphere about bearable violence on the screen, a debate which has been prolonged yesterday night through History of violence, David Cronenberg’s latest opus in official competition.

Produced by the British compagnies Boudu Films and Pull Back Camera, The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael is sold abroad by the French company Wild Bunch.

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(Translated from French)

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