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L'annulaire 2005
Description: When she is slightly harm in the factory where she works, Iris quits her job and finds a fresh one as an assistant in a laboratory of a very peculiar kind. Without totally grasping what is at enjoy around her, she gradually engages in a disturbing love affair with her enigmatic employer.
Released: 08 Jun 2005 Director: Diane Bertrand Writers: Diane Bertrand, Yôko Ogawa (novel) Actors: Olga Kurylenko, Marc Barbé, Stipe Erceg, Edith Scob Genres: Drama
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L'annulaire Reviews:

I saw this movie at the 2005 Toronto International Movie Festival.L'Annulaire is the second detail movie from director Diane Bertrand, who also wrote the screenplay for this adaptation of Yoko Ogawa's novel.The movie follows Iris (Olga Kurylenko), who moves to a port city after cutting off the hint of her ring finger in an industrial accident. She quickly finds lodging in a hotel down by the harbour, but is forced to share a room with a sailor who works at night and sleeps while she is out in the day. While searching for work, by possibility she comes across an old girls' school that actually houses a boy (Marc Barbe) who preserves and shops private artifacts that folks bring to him.Taking a job as the man's office assistant, she later becomes involved in a sort of relationship with him, while at the same time being intrigued by the sailor (Stipe Erceg), whom she only knows through the things left in their shared room.The movie, filmed in Hamburg and just outside Paris, is beautifully shot. Bertrand favours many tight shots of the characters, giving a more intimate feel to many of the moments in the film. Noah Cowan, the co-director of the festival, described the movie as combining the contemplative feel of Asian cinema with the sexual energy of European cinema. Thus, the movie is very spare in its dialogue, leaving only the words that are spoken and the looks between characters as the framework on which to interpret the story.The preservation of private artifacts in the movie causes one to wonder about the nature of memories, loss, and the desire or need to transport on, extending even to Iris' own life. This supports to draw the viewer into what is a very quiet and meditative film.I found the actress testing Iris was quite good, especially given that it was her first movie and that she had to communicate so much non-verbally. A several of the scenes between her and the preservationist were charged with a lot of sensual energy, even in something as easy as him putting a pair of shoes on her feet.Notes from the Q&A with director Diane Bertrand: - L'Annulaire is very open-ended, and Bertrand herself admitted the movie doesn't give any answers; the audience can imagine what it wants.She tried to be faithful to the novel, but it is very short. Bertrand added the sub-plot with the sailor.When asked why she adapted this novel, Bertrand told when she first read the book, she couldn't stop, and had all these photos in her head, which was unusual since the atmosphere in the ebook is not European. But even upon re-reading the novel she still had the same feelings. She felt aspirations to discover the desire, love, and mysteries of the story.Olga Kurylenko is from the Ukraine, and this was her first film, thus making it hard to receive financing. Thus, there was lots of time for her to work on her character; Bertrand asked her to watch lots of movies and read a lot of books. Kurylenko felt a bond to the character.The director of photography is also a photographer, which accounts for the look of the film.Bertrand wanted to movie something slow like a painting, to create the audience feel as though they are watching moving images.Minor spoilers below:Bertrand had less direction for Marc Barbe, but she did ask him to not enjoy his scenes with Kurylenko like he wanted to seduce her, even though the hero seems to know exactly what she needs. Iris is supposed to feel that he sees inside her as later as they meet. Barbe accepted that the hero does not need to explain himself.In the novel, the shoes which enjoy an necessary role in the storyline are black, not red, however Bertrand has a bit of an obsession with the colour red.Bertrand feels the storyline really begins with the stage where the preservationist puts the shoes on Iris' feet. It is Ogawa's theme that Iris has a feeling of being possessed by the shoes. But when Barbe's hero says Iris that she can't take the shoes off, she gives him a fast look that tells "ok, so you wish to enjoy this game" and decides to do it, preferring to live something rather than nothing.


A town with no name, a young girl with no history, a house apart - a strange island in a sea of trees. I like the lack of references to anything external to this system. The globe of this film is airtight. I'm reminded of the popular storyline retold by W. Somerset Maugham, "Appointment in Samarra", where a man, upon bumping into Death in the roads of Baghdad, flees to Samarra to avoid his wrath, but instead runs into Death who is waiting for him in Samarra, and whose anger at the jostling in Baghdad is revealed to have been mere surprise, as he had been expecting to see the boy in Samarra soon in the day. The sealed nature of this movie demands a focus on inevitability.A young woman, Iris, wanders alone in the port zone of the city, along superannuated towpaths, past the large hulks of international shipping; outside of work the closest she comes to really being with others is staring at prostitutes behind plate glass, or contemplating entering a bar. There's something brutal about the isolation of Iris by the filmmaker. When I reviewed In The Town of Sylvia, similarly a pretty film with an isolated character, I told that the filmmaker could either have won the Golden Lion at Venice or have been brutally murdered; I've related feelings here.Today is Sunday and I've been sat in a deserted office building writing this review, ostensibly here to study for exams, but procrastinating somewhat. The morning roads are almost empty, a white contrail tips at faraway journeys that I'll never be part of, the river is full of empty boats. There is nothing nice about being alone; the beauty of it is only a subtle form of cruelty.The soundtrack of the film is done by Beth Gibbons of Portishead; its fractured entropised lilt is just right; you only ever catch fragments of lyrics.Iris gets work as the sole employee in the strange set aside laboratory. The laboratory offers a easy service whereby folks may come and, for a fee, have stuff preserved and stored away. This seems quite a perverse thing to do. Memory, which it seems this movie is about, IS perverse. Recently I wrote three poems to a girl I love, who I soon learnt has no desire to be with me, I never gave them to her. A colleague says me I could burn them, and that is perhaps the greatest thing to do, but perversity wills me to preserve them, to torture myself. Memory becomes viscous ooze in which you are trapped, finally it solidifies and turns into amber. Folks (mostly children) who can live in the moment, truly do not know how lucky they are.Some have named the movie erotic, however the erotic whilst present, is as intangible as a passing cloud on a sunny day. Marc Barbé's conserver remains inscrutable and devoid of passion during sex scenes. Sex scenes with him are no more or less sensual than seeing a spider cocooning a fly, trapped for inclusion in its larder. One quite disturbing picture from above shows us an photo of his head on Iris' body, he is merely consuming her.Other aspects of the erotic are fetishistic, the focus on the shoes that Iris is made to wear for her work, her clothing, which the sailor who sleeps in her room in the morning feels and smells in her absence. The film brought to mind for me Magritte's two popular fetishistic paintings, The Red Model, and Philosophy in the Boudoir, both of which present clothing suggesting the female form. (Philosophy in the Boudoir also came to mind during In The Town of Sylvia).Mahjong came into enjoy as it does in all nice surreal films (cross-reference to Robbe-Grillet's The Blue Villa). You should if you wish see Iris as a flower tile, and the laboratory door as the white dragon tile (which is a blank tile in Mahjong, or blankness with a rectangular border). These are symbolic, but I don't wish to spoil the film by mentioning how.Do not watch this movie, arrange to have all copies burnt!


Saw this at TIFF 2005, my buddy and I went into this film with no expectations and it ended up being a favourite (top 3 for me) of the film-fest. Unlike most at the fest, the pacing was excellent and every stage was necessary, it's a rare film today that has such tight editing. The mystery and eros has a slow-burning build....This was the only movie I attended at the fest that left the audience hushed during the credits as well. I wouldn't call it 'eerie', maybe 'otherworldly'? Reminded me a tiny of polanski's ninth gate somewhat (and that's a nice thing), but I doubt that anyone else would create that comparison :) I've been thinking about this film for five months, figured it would be a shoe-in on the art-house circuit, but haven't heard much yet, this film deserves to be seen!



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