Film-Forward Review: [ONE TO ANOTHER]

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Arthur Dupont as Pierre
Lizzie Brocheré as Lucie
Photo: Red Envelope Entertainment/Strand Releasing

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Directed by: Pascal Arnold & Jean-Marc Barr.
Produced by: Karina Grandjean, Arnold & Barr.
Written by: Arnold.
Director of Photography: Barr.
Edited by: Chantal Hymans.
Music by: Irina Decermic.
Released by: Red Envelope Entertainment/Strand Releasing.
Language: French with English subtitles.
Country of Origin: France/Denmark. 95 min. Not Rated. With: Lizzie Brocheré, Arthur Dupont, Guillaume Baché, Pierre Perrier & Nicholas Nollet.

It’s not until the end that this drama is revealed to be based on a true story. It would have been helpful to have known this earlier. Otherwise, it’s too easy to dismiss as yet another overheated French coming-of-age film with an abundance of sex and nudity. Bisexuality runs rampant, and everyone is good-looking and drops trou, whether to skinny dip or lay in the sun. (Even a lurking peeping tom, who seems a bit touched, has a well-muscled body.)

Still, the film is a stubbornly enticing mystery, centered on the beating death of stud muffin Pierre. But the real enigma is the preening 20-year-old’s relationship with his sister, Lucie. Unlike the frank but even more ponderous Grand École and Cold Showers, One to Another has a pulsating undercurrent due in part to the fragmented script, which toys with the audience, doling out pertinent information here and there.

The sole female in the clique, Lucie openly sleeps with brothers Sébastian and Baptiste, though not at the same time, while first-year law student Nicholas sleeps with Pierre. All the guys perform in a Billy Idol knock-off band with Lucie their most effusive groupie. (Though there are no barriers between them, Nicholas keeps his liaison with Pierre a secret; Lucie is more than aware – she smells him on her brother.) Apparently, her brother also sleeps with everybody in the sparsely populated countryside for either pay or play. The film’s French title translates as To Each Their Night, more poetic than the more blunt English title, but either one gives you a pretty good idea of the group’s dynamic.

Mostly insinuated, the brother/sister bonding will raise eyebrows as it borders on being rather peculiar. When Lucie laments to Pierre that “life separates us,” there really are so many ways to interpret this. (Just see the photo above.) In her wooden voice-over, Lucie justifies or perhaps excuses her behavior by claiming that instinct guides her, Pierre, and their mates – they live their lives as young people should. Aiming to emphasize the siblings’ symbiotic relationship, the script lays it on a bit thick with Lucie and Pierre having the same strawberry-shaped birthmark on their right buttock.

With her saucer blue eyes, actress Lizzie Brocheré resembles Simone Signoret, combined with the uninhibitedness of Swimming Pool’s blond bombshell Ludivine Sagnier, but without either actress’s charisma. Though Lucie’s mental state is, understandably, depressed, the directors too often have her physically immobile, supine on the ground or curled up in a ball, often with the same faraway look in her eyes. When she sets on her own investigation through seduction, her attempts are strictly by the numbers.

Not including the too-close-for-comfort Pierre and Lucie scenes, the characters are lifeless and dour, even with all the sex. The directors probably didn’t want to reveal too much at one time, but the tone of the film is listless as a result. At times Brocheré gives off sparks, giving one the sense that the actress may have been reigned in. Standing apart from the film, though, is the poignant score, contemporary yet sounding like something straight out of a film noir. Kent Turner
June 29, 2007



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