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UK: ICA Projects
Cast: Vincent Lecuyer, Marie Du Bled, Helene De Reymaeker, Michael Abiteboul, Vincent Belorgey, Ingrid Heiderscheidt, Alexandra Marotta, Serge Lariviere, Georges Siatidis Philippe Grand'Henry, Viviane Robert, Philippe Menage, Rudy Toorop, Julie Ghanet, Viviane Becha, Pol Deranne
Director: Bouli Lanners
Countries: Belgium / France
Language: French (English subtitles)
UK: 85 mins
UK Certificate: 12A contains strong language
UK Release Date: 16 December 2005 (Limited Release - London)
The spirits of Aki Kaurismaki, Jim Jarmusch and Mike Leigh move through this delightful debut from Belgian painter/filmmaker Bouli Lanners. Gentle melancholy and droll, deadpan wit suffuse this loosely-constructed tale of assorted losers and loners looking both to find themselves and to connect with other people in the colourless, flat Liege landscape.
Set in an industrialised backwater of Belgium, Dmitri (Vincent Lecuyer), a deeply introverted individual scrapes out a living, ironically as an estate agent, selling self starter homes in exceptionally bland locations. Speculation abounds regarding his unknown past, capturing the imagination and intrigue of two local girls, Jeanne (Marie du Bled) and Cathy (Helene de Reymaeker) - two girls struck with equally mundane and uninspiring jobs and lives. A morbidly funny accidental meeting between Dimitri and Jeanne involving a dog called Alice leads to a tentative romance, which falters from day one.
Meanwhile, the rest of this comical cast of characters have their own problems trying desperately to find meaning, colour and substance in Lanners' melancholic, but ultimately mirthsome, obscure and touching world.
Although unassuming and modest, the film is only deceptively simple; it gathers great strength from its immaculate compositional sense, detailed characters and an offbeat sensibility that never feels overly calculated. What's more, the beautiful score is complemented by an inventive sound design that gives the film a real added dimension. Although you may be able to see all the way to the horizon, posits Lanners, life can still throw up surprises when you least expect them. ULTRANOVA is one such surprise — and it's a welcome one.