Drama / Mystery

IMDb Rating 6.9 10 3,481


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September 23, 2019



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23.976 fps
141 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by iaido 8 / 10 / 10

Filling in the void

On the surface, L'Humanite is about a detective, Pharaon, dealing with his hyper sensitive nature to a rape/murder of a young girl he is investigating, but especially for his unrequited love to his neighbor, Domino. Pharoan is like a wounded, or fearful child, dumpy, perpetually slumped over, soft spoken, watery eyed, whereas Domino is considerably working class, modern, damaged, but not nearly as fearful, at least, not as openly sensitive; unlike Pharaon, she doesn't wear her fear like bad suit. But, that is just the surface of the characters and story, the actual definition of these key elements is left up to the viewer. The plot and the characters are fragments. Instead of miring itself in details, long monologues, heavy dialogue in general, or normal cinematic conventions, the film is purposefully left incomplete in many areas. Thus, the viewer is left to speculate how these gaps should be filled, left to ponder the scraps given to them. For example, we are told Pharaon's girlfriend and child left him, but not why. Is Pharaon's sensitivity a product of his being abandoned by this woman, or was his sensitivity the cause of her leaving? Domino is clearly upset when Pharaon mentions the case of the rape/murder of the young girl, but is her reaction just empathy, or something deeper? For every detail we are given, there are often unresolved questions that are never conveniently answered. It somewhat reminds me of a Shohei Imamrua film, like Vengeance is Mine or The Eel, in that the story unfolds through rather mundane scenes, but these scenes end up speaking volumes over the course of the film. You could also say it is a bit like Antonioni as well, as the ordinary, often bright, landscape often contributes just as much emotion as the characters. Basically, Brumo Dumont, like Imamura or Antonioni, eschews normal narrative conventions to tell a story. He lets the viewer fill in the gaps, and much of the film will always remain an engaging mystery.

Reviewed by ziggy-24 10 / 10 / 10

A fascinating catholic horror film

L'Humanité is undoubtedly the best French movie I've seen this year. It's somewhere between Robert Bresson and David Lynch, which is quite uncommon. This is a suspense movie, but the nature of the suspense is metaphysical. The spectator, like the hero (Pharaon de Winter), keeps on following false leads as he tries to discover WHO the murderer could be. He even suspects Pharaon himself to be guilty (which, in a way, is true, if we admit we're all guilty). The characters all seem to be on the thin border line between humanity and animality. Pharaon needs a physical contact with human beings and animal alike; most of the time, men and women are filmed as if they were beasts and vice versa. But the film bears no contempt for anyone. It's not realistic but, on the other hand, it has nothing in common with 99% of the fictions we go and see usually. There is something about empathy in L'Humanité that I had never felt in cinema before. If I had to connect it with a genre, it would definitely be an "ethological genre movie"… The screenplay is brilliant, the actors are so far away from what we expect from actors that they seem to come from another planet until we understand it's actually ours. Here is the riddle of L'Humanité: we live down here among strangers, and the nearer other people seem to be, the farther they actually are. L'Humanité is not made to entertain. If you're not looking for something else in films, don't waste your time, it has nothing in common with The End of Days.

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 10 / 10 / 10

"the Life of Jesus" (1997) and "Humanity" (1999) solidify Bruno Dumont as a genuine author

"the Life of Jesus" (1997), Bruno Dumont's previous movie ended with the murder of an Arab teenager. "Humanity" (1999) starts where "the Life of Jesus" ended: with the rape and the murder of a little girl in the same small town: Bailleul. Obviously, police is on the alert to launch an investigation and track down the slayer. A superintendent, Pharaon Winter (Emmanuel Schotté) has been assigned to find him again. If you think that you deal with a sempiternal detective plot and that the movie will be exclusively built around it, you are partly right. First of all, on the surface, "Humanity" is akin to any detective film with the usual ingredients of the genre. Yes, but Bruno Dumont, the director takes these ingredients back to concoct a recipe in his own manner. The first merit to be attributed to his work is that it bewares of every commonplace and every easiness of fashion. All the clichés which bit by bit endowed in an artificial way the genre of the detective movie have been shelved and consequently, Dumont's work is a real breath of fresh air. Now, if you take a closer look, the quoted investigation plays eventually a subordinate role and almost serves as a pretext to a nearly documentary about Pharaon's life. The less we can say is that his portrait is a far cry from the usual portraits of cops French and American cinema have been cramming us for several decades. So, Pharaon Winter is a policeman in Bailleul. He's the great-grandson of a famous painter with the same name. Throughout the film, we learn vague scraps of his tumultuous past life including this most important one: he lost his wife and little girl in an accident. Now he lives with his mother. He is also secretly in love with his neighbor, Domino (Séverine Cotreele) although the latter has a lover, Joseph (Philippe Thullier). The three of them regularly go out either it is in restaurant or by the sea... So, Dumont goes beyond a simple history of killing to shot a real study of customs that would be worthy of an entomologist. Not only about the life of Pharaon but also on the close relatives who surround him, notably on Domino's and Joseph's. Then, to plunge more on the contents of the film and for a better understanding of it, let's write Dumont's words about the main reason which incited him to shot this gem: "I wanted to make a movie that would deal with the love of humanity while bearing in mind the reality which is grievous". Indeed, this humanity suffers and is made of rather dumb or sad human beings. and we mainly perceive them through Pharaon's eyes which are full of empathy and sympathy. With the presence of Pharaon, we learn to like them and become sensitive to their sorrow. In the last sequence when the murderer has been found (I won't reveal who it is), Pharaon kisses him on the mouth. If you don't bear in mind Dumont's words, of course, it will seem ludicrous to you but it is perfectly coherent with the philosophy of the film. On another extent, Pharaon sympathizes to the humanity's pain but this reality can be sometimes unbearable (the primal scream in front of the Eurostar, the embrace with the male nurse at the mental hospital. At last Dumont isn't afraid to shot the brutish sides of this humanity as the wild sexual relations between Domino and Joseph testify. "The Life of Jesus" brought out a strong Bressonian odor in its cinema writing. In "Humanity" it fills the whole movie so much that Dumont could be Robert Bresson's deserving grandson and heir. Although he declines any link of relationship with the author of "Diary of a Country Priest" (1951), their respective cinema approaches perfectly agree: an absolute supremacy of the image, rare or reduced to the extreme dialogs to make the action progress and hiring of non-professional actors. Dumont's directorial style perfectly exploits these features and silence speaks much louder than dialogs. Through the actors' countenances and gestures, the viewer can guess or try to find what the comedians may think of. Dialogs are largely scattered throughout the flick, they notwithstanding contain another part of brilliance from Dumont: with few dialogs, he can express so much... Furthermore, Dumont distinguishes himself from Bresson and perseveres in his way with characteristics which belong to him. By watching this film, we can feel that there's such a will to depict life as it really is without distortions or extravagances and there's such an intensity in the presentation of Bailleul that it is close to the extraordinary and sacred. And of course, like in its predecessor, there's always this sharp sense of detail (which says a lot about several characters), of space and observation which contribute to solidify "Humanity" in its place of winner. Such an arty work would be no worth without its actors. Like in "the Life of Jesus", these non-professional actors seem to live more than to act what they go through. One can't forget Emmanuel Schotté's neutral performance and his lifeless, melancholy face. Robert Bresson would probably have cried to work with him... "The Life of Jesus" was the act of creation of an author, "Humanity" is the step of maturity and for Dumont it is astounding. A pure marvel as well as an undeniable tour-de-force in the so much massacred genre of the detective film, "Humanity" leaves an indelible mark in our mind. The odds are that this slow-paced, one of a kind detective film will throw a viewer or two, used in watching whodunits shot in a vigorous and dry manner but if you are sick of them, why not spend a DVD evening in front of this gem? If it hypnotized you, maybe will you see the world differently.

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