Corn, lightly spiced with wit

Issue 

A World Without Pity (Un Monde sans Pitie)
Writer/director Eric Rochard
Starring Hippolyte Girarot, Mireille Perrier
Reviewed by Pat Brewer

"Hippo doesn't believe in God, nor in a bright future, nor in the European Market. He has no dreams, no ideals, no projects. The only thing that makes life worth living is love." So saith the blurb, which enthusiastically claim that this is the top French film of the year.

Yes, it is a love story — one with beautiful stars, made with wonderful technical skill, with all the grainy intimacy and appeal of avant garde Parisian life. But the claims failed to live up to the viewing.

As a love story, it's as credible as a Mills and Boon (with Gallic charm, of course). And I suspect its aim is exactly the same. If you need escapism from the nastiness of reality, this is the film for you.

The hero, a non-working, cool, French youth of working-class parents, lives on the margin — limited education, petty thief, successful poker player, but basically living off his high school student younger brother, who deals in soft drugs (not cocaine of course, as our hero insists). He also lives on the fringe of the left.

Enter our heroine — a career woman, university student, translator for a visiting Russian economist, who mixes with the intellectual male left of the obscure debates. They meet by accident. He follows her and, with that same bluff and front so useful in poker, exacts her name from the university authorities in the name of true love.

Unlike his usual rather nasty relations with women, she calls the shots, but of course succumbs to the irresistible force of love.

Following the "love triumphs over adversity" line, they are separated by events — she takes a one year job at MIT in the US. After great personal trauma, he agrees to dance to her tune, but the nasty "flics", who are the perpetual hazard of marginal life, pick him up on a stolen car charge on his way to tell her.

The end is not resolved. Just the modern equivalent of "and they lived happily every after", but much more hip. The final scene occurs as she returns from her year in the States. She looks around for him at the airport. She gets into a car. Pan back to our hero watching her. She looks out the window as the car drives away, sees him there, and they gaze meaningfully at each other as the credits descend.

To be fair, there were some witty lines and some depth to his life — his circumstances had some reality. But hers were romantic shallowness. There isn't enough to sustain, or to overcome the feeling of Mills and Boon.

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