Review: L'Age des Tenebres

L'Age des Tenebres
6 10

(The Age of Ignorance)
Directed by: Denys Arcand
Starring: Marc Labreche, Diane Kruger, Rufus Wainwright...

PLOT: In an attempt to escape the miserable reality of his insignificant and failed life, Jean-Marc uses his vivid imagination to delve into an idealistic dreamland in which he transforms into various heroic characters and has beautiful women at his disposal. As his life continues to fall apart, he builds the courage to eventually resist his dream temptations and face the hopeful reality of a new life.

CRITIQUE: Bizarre, imaginative, twisted yet sympathetically amusing are the first thoughts that spring to mind with the premiere of Arcand’s newest film in Cannes . Critically acclaimed for previous films such as THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS, JESUS OF MONTREAL and THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE, L’AGE DES TENEBRES paints a bleak picture of a regular Joe Schmoe’s monotonous, intolerable and gloomy life. The film is diverted from realistically depressing scenarios to humorous absurdity with Jean-Marc’s active imagination and escapism. He takes refuge in his fantasy world when his life goes awry. The film has an incomprehensible and perverse start but becomes progressively coherent with the reappearance of Jean-Marc’s fantasy ladies and reoccurrence of daydreams.

Although he can easily be dismissed as a pathetic pervert, the depiction of Jean-Marc’s misery and despair ultimately evoke a sense of empathy for the character. His problems as a failed father with an insignificant job, loveless marriage and dying mother, culminate in a series of sexual fantasies involving a lesbian coworker, beautiful actress, sexy journalist and domineering boss. In his dreams, he imagines himself as an actor, politician, he book author and most bizarrely, a knight. It’s only when his wife finally decides to skip town, that he realizes that it’s time to face the music and get a grip on his unrealistic fantasies, which no longer suffice the temporary escape from his melancholic life.

Arcand paints an unusual but painfully realistic picture of a typically unhappy person feeling lost, hopeless and trapped. Whereas some people may resort to an alternate, not-so-innocent solution to find temporary happiness, Jean-Marc’s approach is harmless. His indecisive sexual fantasies never reach a climactic point and there are plenty of slapstick moments teetering between strange and funny.

Labreche is a famous Quebecois TV star whose average Joe looks work very well for the part. Diane Kruger is the beautiful actress in Jean-Marc’s daydreams and Sylvie Leonard is perfectly cast as his controlling, workaholic wife. There are several comical performances by the supporting cast including the part of a singing poet played by Rufus Wainwright. Alternating between reality and fantasy sequences, the film wraps up nicely, succeeding in scrutinizing our Western world’s ethics, morality tainted by unrealistic expectations, corruption and boredom. Although the film had a weak start, I found myself pleasantly surprised with its comprehensible finish. It was comical, creative and disheartening. -- 6/10

Source: JoBlo.com



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