If wanting to talk about mystic beauty, Perdition County is definitely a great place to start. An ambitious, dystopian odyssey, in glorious cinemascope, with freedom and redemption as the ultimate goals. Not all that original you might say, true, but if looking for a redefinition of bleak and moody, this is it. Trust me, Dante would have been drooling all over this place draped in misery and apathy. Very far removed from the land of milk and honey, Desmond, a foot soldier and militia member, and his traders in gloom are on a search and destroy mission. Enter two heathen children, about to be killed, and Desmond, the hunter, becomes Desmond, the hunted after deciding to defect from his band of scalp-collecting pilgrims.
The setting, the tormented faces and the darkish tones work wonders. Honestly, I’ve hardly seen the art of being followed executed as consistently and visually refined. The camera’s having the characters back, literally. But still, we are left behind with a rather bitter taste in our mouth during this battle of good versus evil and all the grey in between. And not because of the suffering nor the deaths being died.
There’s a very archaic story to follow. Of course, nothing we haven’t seen before, but it doesn’t seem to be imbedded in anything worth caring about. The characters draw us in, true, but as there’s no underlying notion of a bigger picture, we seem to wonder and wander through that rural landscape to no avail. A noble human quest, but unfortunately, taking place in a vacuum. We feel like disconnected bystanders observing humanity at its darkest. Intention should always come first, the 'why' grounded in a personal reality to make it all come alive. That personal touch we always talk about.
It’s like looking at a beautiful girl. Initially you stare, overwhelmed by all that mystery and natural beauty, but after a while you turn away, looking in vain for an enticing conversation and that very floating thing called substance. Perdition County definitely has a soul, but is painfully lacking in the heartbeat department.
"Perdition County" by Raphaël Crombez (Belgium)
Karlovy Vary 2015 - EFP Future Frames
Name: Wim Vanacker