Ultranova

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Rumour has it that Dimitri (Vincent Lecuyer) has a tragic past, though we haven’t heard that from him, or much else for that matter. An employee at an estate agent based in the flat greyness of Liège, Belgium, he’s a shy, retiring sort who seems generally bemused by his surroundings, his colleagues and the very possibility of romance. His neighbour Jeanne (Marie du Bled) tells her pal Cathy (Hélène de Reymaeker) that Dimitri lost his parents as a boy; Dimitri and Cathy meet under appropriately forlorn circumstances when they help a man search for his missing dog. One of Dimitri’s workmates harbours a strange fixation on pregnant women; another seems perpetually coiled in barely suppressed rage.

Slender scion of Jarmusch and Kaurismäki, ‘Ultranova’ may strain for its 83-minute run time, but its bone-dry comic setups and reticent characterisations deepen on reflection. Cornered in monotonous jobs, mired in a landscape shaped by the concrete demands of the motorway, Dimitri and company either lack affect or possess it in excess. Their heads teem with neuroses and magical thinking, as if to conjure suspense and excitement from their tract architecture and asphalt vistas: one man attributes mystical significance to his car’s faulty air bag; a young woman slashes the palm of her hand to alter her lifeline. Also a painter and actor (he had a small role in last year's mordant comedy ‘Aaltra’), first-time feature director Bouli Lanners refuses to dig for the wellhead of his characters’ pain or, for the most part, to resolve conflicts once they’re raised; perhaps that task is up to us, or just as likely, up to the stars.

Release details

Release date: Friday December 16 2005
Duration: 83 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Bouli Lanners
Screenwriter: Bouli Lanners
Cast: Michaël Abiteboul
Hélène de Reymaeker
Vincent Belorgey
Marie du Bled
Vincent Lecuyer
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