sat 21/05/2022

DVD: Hors Satan | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Hors Satan

DVD: Hors Satan

Bruno Dumont’s oblique meditation on salvation and punishment

'Hors Satan': Alexandre Lematre as La fille (left) and David Dewale as Le gars (right)

A female hiker is naked. A village is close. Lying on the slope down to a river, she invites the taciturn man she’s followed to have sex. They do. She begins shrieking and foaming at the mouth. He fastens his face to hers. She could then be dead yet begins crawling into the water, looks heavenwards and spreads her arms.

Hors Satan DVDThe images of baptism and rebirth are clear. But the motivation of the man, David Dewale’s Le gars (the man or guy), is less clear cut. Bruno Dumont’s Hors Satan (Outside Satan) is hard to read in terms of specifics, but overall it dwells on the arrival of a mystical outsider in a rural community. Other religious imagery is not Christian – the outstretched and cupped hands of Islam – but Le gars is a figure bringing salvation and meting out forms of justice. He has the power to heal and much more. Much more. Some of his interactions are the same – exactly – as Sermet Tesiul’s eponymous lead in Reha Erdem’s similarly themed and as-oblique Kosmos (2010). Yet this is a Dumont film, so there are stylistic echoes of Bresson and the setting is his favoured bleak landscape of north, coastal France. The relationship of Le gars to Alexandre Lematre’s La fille (her film debut) is sensitive and respectful – he rejects her sexual advances. After doing his job, Le gars moves on.

Hors Satan is dreamlike. Not just because it's removed from the recognisable mileu of his last film, Hadewijch. Presenting the incomprehensible with no reservations doesn’t make Hors Satan a puzzle though. A meditation on the nature of whether the day-to-day can accommodate the miraculous, it’s a magical realist fantasy. Whether Dewale’s Le gars is a force for good or evil depends on the viewpoint of those encountering him. Dewales (who was also in Hadewijch) is powerful and his death soon after the film’s completion posits a what-if about what he may have done subsequently. Lematre is another fabulous discovery by Dumont. In keeping with the nature of the film, beyond the trailer, the other extra on the DVD is a borderline-surreal examination of the film’s audio environment. Do not watch this before seeing the film.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch the trailer for Hors Satan

Presenting the incomprehensible with no reservations doesn’t make 'Hors Satan' a puzzle


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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