REVIEW: DVD Release: Un Jeu Brutal/De Bruit Et De Fureur

Film: Un Jeu Brutal/De Bruit Et De Fureur
Release date: 8th February 2010
Certificate: 18
Running time: 177 mins
Director: Jean-Claude Brisseau
Starring: Bruno Cremer, Emmanuelle Debever, Lisa Heredia
Genre: Drama
Studio: Axiom
Format: DVD
Country: France

Two early films from French director Jean-Claude Brisseau, who would go on to greater recognition with films such as 2003’s Cannes-recognised Secret Things.

Un Jeu Brutal is the story of Isabelle, a disabled teenager who is taken out of her boarding school to live with her father at the dying request of his mother. Isabelle has to deal with her father’s strict ideas on what she should be able to do and say. This often results in violence, as Isabelle is also a strong character whose frustration at her situation manifests itself in defiance and the odd temper tantrum. She faces many new challenges: developing trust in a new teacher who comes to live with her, her teacher's brother who visits and becomes the object of her desires as she craves affection and becomes aware of her awakening sexuality; and the realisation that her small and limiting world is actually a very dangerous place.

Living in the countryside, in what looks like Provence, the setting is reminiscent of another well loved French film, Manon des Sources, and Isabelle is of similar age and beauty to Manon. However, she does not enjoy any of Manon's freedom or innocence, as Isabelle's situation is desperate. Trapped by an incompetent body, and an even less competent father, she is in a precarious position. She comes close to death twice on the mountainside, but as she follows news coverage of a series of murders of children, she finds that danger could not be closer to home.

De Bruit Et De Fureur is again the story of a teenager who experiences a change in circumstances at the start of the film. Bruno is sent to live with his mother in the suburbs of a city. The setting is very different. Mountains are replaced by high rise flats, and a violent father by constant violence on the streets. Interestingly, Bruno's mother never appears on screen, and is only present on the telephone and in the notes that she leaves around the flat. Bruno seeks companionship and affection, and becomes heavily involved with a family from his apartment block, and in particular with the youngest son Jean Roger, who is in his class at school.

It seems that this family is to be his downfall, leading him along a path of motorbikes, gangs, drink, sexual violence and more. Jean Roger's father is a similarly unpredictable, mysterious and sinister character to Isabelle's father, also played by Cremer. It is this central character who proves to be the most influential and dangerous. He loves guns, encourages his eldest son to give up work, and fiercely protects his family, no matter what.

Away from his influence Bruno shows signs of being a sensitive soul, staying behind at school to improve his work, showing concern for Jean Roger's invalid grandfather, and looking after a canary who is of disproportionate importance to him. The bird becomes a central theme, representing freedom, escapism and opportunity. De Bruit Et De Fureur offers an insight into inner city life in France in the 1980s, particularly through the school and street scenes, and the devastation that can be found there…

These are sad stories of the need to belong and feel loved. None of the teenagers who appear in these two films truly belongs or experiences any love. Even Jean Roger, who delights in framing his teacher and setting people alight, is constantly seeking love from his father, and admiration from the gang he is desperate to join. Both films treat the re-education of a teenager who is placed in an unfamiliar situation and is losing control. They share an atmosphere of suspense, some touching and powerful performances, and an effective soundtrack, particularly in its use of silence.

Un Jeu Brutal And De Bruit Et De Fureur are certainly not uplifting, and are, at times, difficult to view, given some unusual sexual relationships and random acts of brutality. However, the plots are clever, the characters well developed and the performances extremely authentic. 

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