July 8, 2012

Filthy Review - Domain

Domain (2009)

Review by Jude Felton

French actress Beatrice Dalle first came to the public’s attention in the 1986 Jean-Jacques Beineix directed movie Betty Blue, which itself is an excellent movie. Since then she has starred in around 40 movies, with the combination of her usually terrific acting and alluring good looks mesmerizing audiences. Even when she is playing an absolutely terrifying character, such as the mysterious woman in 2007’s Inside, she maintains a strangely sexy appeal.

In Domain, which is directed by Austrian Patric Chiha, Dalle plays Nadia; a self-assured mathematician who lives a carefree existence. Her nephew, Pierre, is 17 and is coming to terms with his own sexuality, and looks to Nadia for guidance. The film follows their relationship, as each one goes in a differing direction. Pierre becoming more confident and responsible, whereas Nadia’s increasing dependency on alcohol slowly pushes them apart.

Right from the offset Domain is a dialogue heavy film, with the majority of the action involving lengthy conversations between the two leads, only occasionally stepping outside this when they visit seedy nightclubs or restaurants. It is for the most part engrossing viewing though, and even though the film centers on the pair’s relationship it is very much Dalle’s movie. Her slow and gradual descent is played out painfully, without resorting to the theatrics of films such as Leaving Las Vegas, to which some parallels can be drawn.

However, whereas in Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage’s character sets out to drink himself to death, Nadia is not doing it intentionally; it is just part of her life, and the effects are subtle yet deliberate. The movie works on different levels, the main themes being chaos and order, to which there are a great many discussions.

With this his second feature length movie, director Patric Chiha, has shown that a great assuredness in his storytelling, as well as having an eye for some beautiful visuals. The latter stages of the movie, set in the domain of the title, are quite breathtaking to look at, even when the story itself is in free-fall.

Domain is however an acquired viewing, at times there are parts that come across as a little self-indulgent with the repetition of dialogue, yet Dalle and Isaie Sultan, as Pierre, are never less than riveting in their roles.

Overall, Domain is an intelligent and cerebral movie that is rewarding viewing, even when it isn’t firing on all cylinders, and is worth watching for Dalle’s performance alone. As for director Chiha, he is definitely a director to keep an eye on for the future.

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