Le Souffle review

Boldly switching from reverie to nightmare, French writer/director Damien Odoul's feverish low-budget debut follows a day in the life of 15-year-old David (Pierre-Louis Bonnetblanc). This isn't any old day, mind you - - David is staying with his uncles on their sheep farm and he's been invited to join in with the men's annual barbecue. Drinking, feasting and singing follow, before the horny teenager, now drunk, heads off into the countryside to search for his girlfriend...

Making no attempt to rationalise the behaviour of his volatile, troubled and lustful protagonist, Odoul instead immerses the viewer in David's vivid dreams and animalistic fantasies, showing the world from his frenzied perspective. The line between fantasy and reality blurs with disturbing effect.

And yet, strikingly shot in black-and-white and acted by an entirely non-professional cast, Le Souffle also owes a debt to Robert Bresson's classic rural dramas Mouchette and Au Hasard Balthazar. It's a strange mix but one that, for the most part, works well.

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