Carnages

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Time Out says

This first feature traces the idea of oblique connections through a mix-and-match montage of tangentially related characters - the distinction being the near-surrealistic unaccountability with which it maintains its disjointed air. Writer/director Gleize made a 1999 short by the name of Le Piranha Andalou and in Carnages it's an Andalusian bull, dissected and dispatched through surgeries and supermarkets after it skewers a young toreador, that turns out to be the point of communion between the disparate individuals. Regrettably, that's not the only bull on offer here. Reluctant to spin out story threads, even tangled ones, Gleize instead tries to weave her tapestry with pure themes and metaphors. They don't hold. It's all beautifully mounted, but the skittish medley of ungrounded characters, each stuck in his or her inscrutable headspace, remains stubbornly uninvolving, despite the best efforts of the cast: Mastroianni as an actress struggling through ignominious gigs and swimming-pool 'primal scream' classes; Gamblin as a scientist philandering while his wife takes fertility pills; Molina as a jaded mother; young Molinier as an epileptic girl entranced by bullfighting and her own towering mastiff Fred (quite the performer himself). Carnages does have its fans (it won the Cannes Prix de la Jeunesse and the London Film Festival's Sutherland Trophy back in 2002), but Gleize's conception of the film as a crystal ball with a single story at its centre ('How do you see yourself?') looks pretty murky.

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