Twentynine Palms

With his third feature, the director of ‘L’Humanité’ joins Michael Haneke and Gaspar Noé in exposing the violent, sex-crazed beast allegedly lurking inside us all. Scouting locations in the Joshua Tree desert, an American photographer (David Wissak) and his equally volatile French-speaking girlfriend (Katia Golubeva) drive, fight, eat ice cream (‘It’s not good, but it’s good,’ she opines) and fuck – a pastime that occasions screaming, moaning, barking and a certain dying-cow noise. (A pool poke pays homage to ‘Showgirls’.) When I saw the film at Venice 2003, the barnyard clamour incited chortling, applause and walkouts, even as this stormy immersion in a seemingly airtight universe sunk from the preposterous to the unfathomable. The film is a covert operator: its languorous vérité gait and braying banality culminate in a documentary immediacy that pays horrifying dividends. Indeed, it left this viewer with a bewildering case of Stockholm syndrome. Without giving anything away, ‘Twentynine Palms’ provoked the most messily subjective response I’ve ever experienced at a movie, and you can call that either a recommendation or a warning to steer clear.

Release details

Release date: Friday July 29 2005
Duration: 119 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Bruno Dumont
Screenwriter: Bruno Dumont
Cast: Katia Golubeva
David Wissak
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