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  Eden Log Another Level
Year: 2007
Director: Franck Vestiel
Stars: Clovis Cornillac, Vimala Pons, Zohar Wexler, Sifan Shao, Arben Bajraktaraj, Abdelkader Dahou, Tony Amoni, Antonin Bastian, Joachim Staaf, Benjamin Baroche, Zakariya Gouram, Gabriella Wright
Genre: Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A man (Clovis Cornillac) awakens in darkness, but can make out enough from the intermittently pulsing light somewhere ahead to see that he is in a pool of mud in an underground cave. As he rises to his feet and attempts to find his bearings, he notices some corpses strewn around, but one of them has a torch fitted to its chest and the man prises it off to use himself. Further up the tunnel, he stumbles upon some kind of message, with many heads projected onto the wall, but he cannot make sense of what they are saying... it will be a while before he can.

Eden Log was an odd science fiction thriller that kept its cards close to its chest thereby plunging not only the lead character but the audience into confusion for almost the entire film. It was the debut feature from Franck Vestiel, co-written with Pierre Bordage, and went out of its way, or so it seemed, to be as impenetrable as it possibly could be while still maintaining its grip on the viewer's imagination. This ambition was somewhat hampered by the fact that the first twenty minutes or so contains the unedifying sights and sounds of Cornillac grunting his way through muck and grime.

And all barely able to be picked out in the Stygian gloom, to boot. The cinematography is hardly colour at all, not exactly black and white, more black and blue with the odd splash of red or green at rare moments. It's a striking look, but many will be wishing someone could turn the light on as the protagonist's small torch isn't really up to the task of illuminating the surroundings. Cornillac spends most of the running time caked in mud, and with next to no dialogue it's not the most generous role the actor ever enjoyed.

However, as the story moves forward we are able to pick out the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and gain a clearer picture of what is happening. All of this assumes that picture is worth having, but along the journey there are instances that rouse the interest, whether it's the sight of the man trapped in a cube and rocking it back and forth to escape (we see this from the inside) or the scene where he attempts to make sense of one of those projections by assembling a makeshift screen of found objects for it to be revealed upon (although even then it's pretty inscrutable).

Eventually the hero meets a woman (Vimala Pons) whereupon he threatens audience sympathy, which has been entirely dependent on us knowing as little as he does, by raping her. She has a better idea of what is going on than he, but even though in his mind's eye he was seducing her, actually attacking her understandably renders her reluctant to assist him in his quest to climb up onto the next level. Just like in a computer game, there are villains to avoid, here in the shape of suited soldiers and fearsome mutants, but perhaps Vestiel was too stingy with the information and Eden Log grows hard to care about after a while. The revelation of what is going on is more likely to prompt an underwhwelmed "oh". Music by Alex Cortés and Willie Cortés.

[Momentum's DVD has a making of and a teaser trailer as extras, plus the option of either the dubbed or subtitled version.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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