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  80,000 Years Old Doing The Splits
Year: 2020
Director: Christelle Lheureux
Stars: Laetitia Spigarelli, Aurelien Gabrielli, Andy Gillet, Ines Berdugo
Genre: ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Celine (Laetitia Spigarelli) is an archaeologist who is spending time in Normandy at her sister's house while she is away with her family on holiday. Celine will look after the place, and get on with her work, or that's the theory, in actual fact she wanders around the rooms, playing with her niece's soft toys, and wondering if she will meet someone to lift her out of the doldrums. But the more she wishes for that, the further away it appears...

This was a half hour short from France, created by director Christelle Lheureux, implementing a trick used rarely but notably, most famously in such cinema as Woodstock, where it was used to offer a wider view of the concert, and in the cinema of Brian De Palma who tried it throughout his career often with audacious results. But then there was an exploitation flick like Wicked, Wicked, which also used it for the whole running time, and there were damn few who liked that.

So really Lheureux could have gone either way with using split screen, for that's what the big gimmick was, it might have been a delightful novelty to tell the story of this woman's loneliness, or it might have been a conceit that grew tiresome even over a relatively skimpy running time. Fortunately, as it was pressed into service to craft a sense of Celine's galloping dislocation, and later, as her inner life affecting her behaviour when we were privy to her imagination, a clever method of positing that daydreams get us by.

It depends on what you’re daydreaming about, of course, and our heroine's vision of a cow showing up at her front door may be happening, or it may be that the boredom she is stuck with is boosting her mental imagery into the realms of the ridiculous. Would she want a cow as a pet, for instance? Would it be one step up from the soft toys since it has a form of consciousness and therefore could reciprocate a little when it was talked to? Why a cow and not a cat, then? Was it down to cows being easier to direct, and cats uninterested in acting?

She graduates to men eventually, and the chance meeting with a brother of an old friend seems like it might go somewhere until it is clear they are on different paths, but really is too glancing to make anything out of, no matter what Celine may be hoping for. But the Bastille Day fireworks have inspired her to seek out a handsome chap who could be the answer to her prayers, and in the latter stages she meets him and all seems to be going very well, yet there was the problem that it's going very well in her fantasy of connection, whereas in reality she is trapped in a modern world where it is extremely difficult to make a connection of any significance with anybody, never mind build on it. As her recent television interview plays on her mind, Celine's self-image merges with her situation, and the final shot says it all. A humorous but sad little film, which if it were not for the innovative editing would look a bit too home movie.

Aka: 80,000 ans

[Click here to watch on MUBI.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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