Tuesday, 27 March 2018

FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: SEE YOU UP THERE (AU REVOIR LA-HAUT)


9/10

The First World War is coming to an end. The troops of both sides don’t want to fight any more, but bloodthirsty Lieutenant Paradelle sends two soldiers across no man’s land for no reason, apart from continuing the bloodshed. When they are shot dead the bitter fight insures… 

Albert Maillard wants to go home like everyone else. When he discovers that the two shot men were the victims of friendly fire that intentionally provoked the conflict, it forever changes his life and the life of his close friend Edouard. The ripples of that day’s events go beyond the battlefield and affect many lives in the strangest ways. An epic journey of friendship and looking for a better place under the sun has begun.

If the novel on which SEE YOU UP THERE is based was written two hundred years ago it could have been written by Victor Hugo. Instead it was penned by Pierre Lemaitre – a crime fiction writer who created Camille Verhoeven – a very short detective who battles with some macabre murder cases. Just like the other Lemaitre’s creations SEE YOU UP THERE is bathing in the atmosphere of a mystery. It is an elegant film which juggles many characters with ease and captures perfectly the atmosphere of Paris after the war, where the lives of those who have plenty collide with those who have nothing, but both sides have lost much and it serves as the bridge that unites them.

The story of SEE YOU UP THERE is unpredictable and even half way through the film it is hard to guess which way the story will go, but the protagonists are charismatic, the villains are despicable and drama is heart wrenching. 

The Director Albert Dupantel obviously took inspiration from Tim Burton’s films, but SEE YOU UP THERE has more realism than the theatrical eccentricity of Burton. Dupantel also plays the main role of Maillard, giving it the combination of toughness and naivety of a man who has escaped hell, but is not quite sure what exactly he has gained in return. 

SEE YOU UP THERE is not perfect, but it follows on the footsteps of classic cinematic storytelling, while remaining original and fresh, which is a tough task to carry out in any film.

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