28 December 2020

Damien Odoul's Le Souffle | Deep Breath (2002)


The adolescent David (Pierre-Louis Bonnetblanc) is the main character in Le Souffle, which shows the non-tourist side of agricultural France, in Limousin. This is Odoul's second feature, following Morasseix ! in 1992. Here, David is sent to his uncle's farm, although he can't escape from the trappings of urban France, listening to rap on his earphones.

But neither David nor his new surroundings seem any more cultivated than each other: David pisses outside the outside WC, as does one of his uncle's friend's, and the brutality with which animals are treated by both David and the farm workers have no essential difference. There is a méchoui (with rabbit savagely slaughtered for the occasion, and wine flowinging abundantly), followed by David's drunken behavour which seems to be no different from that of most of the farm workers. 

Although, the viewpoint of the film being seen through David's eyes, it's not always easy to distinguish between David's reality and the outside world. And it's difficult to tell when pagan rituals merge into Catholic rituals, and vice versa: certainly the gospel-type music seems to be making a message beyond the rap and heavy metal, beyond the old-fashioned rock-'n'-roll of the (non)-avuncular adults. His uncle's 'Qu'est-ce que tu branles ?' ('What are you wanking about at?') is certainly appropriate on one occasion, although on another he appears to be hugging a tree: a 21st century hippie? Certainly it's there in the spirit of rebellion, but not in the spirit of violence.

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