Frontière(s) (2007) Review
Written by: BlackTequilaKiss
There are two things a movie requires above all else: Passion and Characterisation. These matter the most. The plot can be unique, complex or overdrawn, the storyline can tread familiar ground, the scares can be clichéd and none of it can detract if the heart is in it and the characters are those for whom you care.
However to take away the most fundamental elements of a movie guarantees it will not drive the impact it wishes to have. Sure it will generate big sales and get spread through word of mouth, but the test of a real movie, be it horror or otherwise, is how long it survives after the initial period.
Movies with less staying power eventually fade into obscurity with mentions cometh once or twice, but real movies especially in the horror sector, are judged more by the years after when they are still talked off and debated hotly among inspired horror fans.
Lately the trend of new French horror movies as taken storm and with good reason. It doesn't rely on simple gimmicks or overstayed plots on it's own to bring a point across but also uses characterisation well. But the greatest thing the current horror's they bring, have to offer, is thus: Passion.
The director's care about the craft of their movies and the artistry, these are movies that will burn a hole and still cause questions for a while to come. Frontier(s) was both brilliant in the pace up to the main arc of the story and beautiful in taking cynical, unloved characters and giving them required heart.
In simple terms? This one hell of a roller coaster ride!
It begins in Paris, riots raging into streets all due to the election of a conservative candidate to the presidency of France. Alex, Tom, Farid, Yasmine and brother Sami plan to escape with a bag filled with stolen money. Tom and Farid head to the border with the money as Yasmine accompanies her shot brother to the hospital. Tom and Farid eventually decide to stop in a bed and breakfast near the frontier. However the friends realise something is wrong and they have picked the wrong place to settle in. Blood, gore and mayhem are just part of the main course!
Originally I felt nothing toward the main characters in the beginning and I was worried. But as the movie gathered firm pace I was able to really get to the core of each character. Whilst the characters of Tom and Farid were rather unforgiving and not a lot was left to like them, it was Yasmine and Alex who gave me something in the movie to eke on to.
Alex (Aurélien Wiik) was a good character. He began with a rather cold demeanour but as events took a sinister tone we see his character go through the dramas, endure the pain. No longer is he cynical but he has shown some humanity therefore we sympathise and grow to like him, in the end everything we endures we take and we feel for him. Brilliant actor who really did switch projective without being OTT.
Really though, the respect alone goes to Yasmine. First she is hard, then she let's a little emotion to the surface, moves to defiance and then breaks into a born breaded survivor. She really does go through a million stages but sticks root to the character which is her greatest strength. Loved her and she delivered a star studded performance!
Score / Cinematography: It was strange, that really is the way to state it, I thought French movie, a score pressed to suit the movie but some of the music I recognised. Not to say it is bad but strange, a little odd and a little distracting from the movie. The score is frantic, loud and fun. Conversing between sing a long music to a classic score it is the classic score that works. Piano concerto, violin strums, all beautiful and the better of everything by far. Cinematography is tender. What I really, REALLY loved was the different streaks of colour blurred in the sky against a dull background. Gorgeous and I refuse to complain.
Let's be fair, you want one of the biggest draws of this movie. The gore. It is intense! Truly chart stopping intense but what makes the special effects of the gore so well received it works around an established plot without just being there to increase numbers. Once the movie is on the ground running the blood and gore fly. From pliers ripping against ankles to slashed throats all the way to shotguns blasting heads apart it is all here and if you are a gore hound, the treats are suffice to say, worth it.
But like I said before it is the characterisation that carries this movie. The characters you are determined to hate you will, yet some will capture your heart and you become torn. There are characters you are suppose to love who you never get to entirely. But it is credit that you are torn between what should be relatively simple characters. That is an amazing achievement to do, to take the audience and divide them, that is art in itself.
Xavier Gens, director and writer, wore his heart on his sleeve bless him. He intended to make a movie that shocks, scares and harnesses some tenderness about it and he did. He created a shocking but brilliant piece of cinema and it shows. He wanted to add his own flair, give the movie passion and he did. It shows in the film and it shows a director who is truthfully about what he hopes to achieve.
I did like this movie, love? That's still in question as undeniable there are flaws among the pristine. Moving from a scenario that screams gangster movie to horror-torture was dull on the senses. Changing from one extreme to the other is a risky approach, it didn't work in this instant. Some over did the acting and the resolution gave me little satisfaction. Yes there are flaws, I admit this it is not perfection, not even close.
But as a movie in a wake of horror movies that do not do much, it is a refreshing breath of air. I watched this and liked it, one day I hope to love it but it is a good movie.
Rent it beforehand, it's different, not the usual fare but take with a pinch of salt that this is worth the time.
Horror movies have been rejuvenated. Let's hope the trend continues.