Skin of Man,
Heart of Beast

Dir: Hélène Angel
Star: Bernard Blancan, Serge Riaboukine, Pascal Cervo, Virginie Guinand

Awful. Quite awful. It pains me terribly to think that, of all the foreign films made, this one got distribution: Angel must have some compromising photos tucked away. Coco (Blancan) comes back to his family after a mysterious 15-year absence, claiming to have been in the Foreign Legion - yet he is utterly ignorant about army life. What is his secret? From the title, and cover, we were thinking, "werewolf". Our son suggested "cannibal". Both wrong: this heavy-handed morality play takes an interesting concept, renders it utterly lifeless, and is mostly used to beat the male sex over the head, because, going by the depiction here, we're all worthless, violent wretches. Not that the women come off much better - most are sluts, whores or passive victims.

Sadly undeveloped are the fairy-tale aspects hinted at by the young daughters Christelle (Guinand) and Aurelie. The latter, shown with Blancan in the photo, is played by the charming Cathy Hinderchied; she is the film's only saving grace, and could give Dakota Fanning a run for her money. If Angel had concentrated on the sisters' fears about their new uncle, instead of sub-Jerry Springer, soap-opera theatrics, this might have been worth watching - Grimm instead of grim, perhaps. As is, she seems to have no interest in explaining anything (such as the mysterious 'Ronnie', whose name is sewn inside Coco's shirt), and subsequently, her characters' actions founder in a morass of punch-filled pointlessness.

May 2004

...and a piece of garbage
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