wed 22/05/2024

DVD: Fidelio: Alice's Journey | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Fidelio: Alice's Journey

DVD: Fidelio: Alice's Journey

Despite smatterings of the ludicrous, a spiced-up sea voyage brings self-discovery

Ahoy there. Ariane Labed as Alice in 'Fidelio: Alice's Journey'

Fidelio: Alice's Journey can literally be described as relating a journey of self-discovery. A mechanic on the Marseille-registered freighter Fidelio, the equally titular Alice navigates the seas with an all-male crew and explores who they are while investigating her own sexuality.

She’s left her cartoonist boyfriend Felix (Anders Danielsen Lie) on dry land and tells him to use “C” for cock and “P” for pussy in their e-mails to disguise what they’re discussing. Soon, things become more complicated. The ship’s captain Gaël (Melvil Poupaud), turns out to be her first great love. Alice (Ariane Labed) then discovers the effects of the deceased crew member she’s replaced. Of course, she begins reading his diary and finds parallels with her own journey. As well as day-to-day matters, it chronicles his emotional ups-and-downs and sex life. Soon, after a bumpy start, Alice supplements masturbation with sexual encounters with her crew-mates. She wonders how she managed with just one guy.

In its baldest reading, Fidelio: Alice's Journey (Fidelio, l'odyssée d'Alice; Fidelio: Alice’s Odyssey for its American release) is a characteristically high-brow, French-born, intellectualised treatise on sexuality. And this, it is. It is also handled in a deadpan, distanced way which neither comments on nor critiques Alice and those in her world.

The film hinges on Labed’s portrayal of the detached Alice. Even when naked after sex, she could be discussing the price of groceries with her equally exposed partner. Her journey feels like an academic exercise. While the men are cardboard cut-outs, this is Labed’s film and without her reserve it would be ludicrous – especially when the crew gather round the dinner table for philosophical discussions.

This is former actor and writer Lucie Borleteau's first feature as a director and the influence of Claire Denis is clear. Indeed, Borleteau co-wrote Denis’ White Material. The only extra on the home cinema release is the trailer and an explicatory short would have been good. Nonetheless, head here for an offbeat take on hi-jinks on the high seas.

Even when naked after sex, Ariane Labed's Alice is detached and could be discussing the price of groceries with her equally exposed partner


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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