Survivors try to survive the post-apocalyptic world of "The Time of the Wolf," an exploration of civilization vs. savagery.
By LESLIE (HOBAN) BLAKE
Starting with its title taken from an early Germanic poem evoking the time before the end of the world Michael ("Le Pianiste") Haneke's "Le Temps de Loup" ("Time of the Wolf") is literally as well as figuratively a dark film. Set in the aftermath of some unknown catastrophe, the screen occasionally goes so dark that almost nothing can be discerned. Haneke's unsettling "What if..." scenario asks, "What if a group of disparate and desperate people were forced to try and survive together after something awful happened?"
We never learn exactly what happened, because that's not the issue. Haneke is interested in how ordinary people relate in extraordinary situations. Unlike "Mad Max," where everyone reverts to the basest common denominator, these survivors try clinging to rules and routines to protect themselves from the unknown. It's incivility and lawlessness that destroy civilizations according to Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" and Haneke posits that whatever disasters happen, life must and will go on, no matter how mundane that life might be.
|THE TIME OF THE WOLF|
|Original title: Le Temps du Loup.|
Written and directed by: Michael Haneke.
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, BÄatrice Dalle, Patrice ChÄreau, Rona Hartner, Maurice BÄnichou, Olivier Gourmet, Brigitte Ročan, Lucas Biscombe, Hakim Taleb, AnaĽs Demoustier, Serge Riaboukine, Marilyne Even, Florence Loiret.
Cinematography: Jčrgen Jčrges.
Edited by: Nadine Muse, Monika Willi.
Related links: Official site
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It's ironic that Bavarian-born Haneke's last few films (and his next, "CachÄ") have been/are in French. But that befits his confusing body of work, especially the nihilistic duo of "La Pianiste" (2001) and "Funny Games" (1997). While these films prompted suspicions that he merely created sado-masochistic scenarios for his own perverse pleasure, "Le Temps du Loup" is a serious attempt to answer eternal questions via the structure of a horror/sci-fi film.
Previously cast as the masochistic heroine of Haneke's "La Pianiste," for "Loup," Huppert is Anna, a bourgeois mother, forced first to witness the murder of her husband and then to protect her two children, Ben (Lucas Biscombe) and Eva (Anais Demoustier) not only from the unknown terror, but also the very real privations, of this alien and alienating situation.|
Huppert and her excellent fellow cast members including actor/auteur Patrice ChÄreau ("Queen Margot"), Beatrice Dalle ("Betty Blue") and Olivier Gourmet ("The Son"), don't appear to be acting at all. Rather they seem to be part of cautionary tale disguised as docudrama. Haneke also weaves story and myth in and out his character's lives especially with the Legend of the Just, a cabal of 36 righteous men (and women) who are prepared to sacrifice themselves to preserve mankind. Somehow young Ben imagines that he is one of the Just (check that stunning poster image) and his urge toward martyrdom summons unwanted images of equally young Middle Eastern suicide bombers. A thoroughly disturbing and thought-provoking film.
|JULY 3, 2004|
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