Sunday, 19 October 2014

LFF REVIEW - FAR FROM MEN (DAVID OELHOFFEN)


The futility and the absurdity of law over a lawless landscape. In the struggle to exact their cultural identity upon Algeria's fearsome desert, men of all different heritages and creeds engage in a senseless conflict, feuding over a place in the world that eats them alive in great swathes. One detects the natural tension in David Oelhoffen's Far from Men, the perception that danger is forever present, even as supposed enemies are not. There's an otherworldly desolation to the score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, a notion that these men are aliens upon this land, their only real hope to see sense and abandon it. They may adapt through openness - the willingness to accept their shortcomings and realise their true, humble purpose in life. Tellingly, it is only the men whose 'honour' has been stripped of them who are capable of such - they are loners, outsiders, fittingly dwarfed in tremendous isolation by the impressive scenery. Oelhoffen's film is lean and succinct, as one expects a thriller of its kind to be, but not as one has to be. There's relatively little analytical scope in Far from Men, the intriguing complexities of out enigmatic leads revealed early to be mere hollow character descriptions, and Oelhoffen resists the opportunity to develop their relationship to its full potential. The film is mostly only as it seems: simple and plain, though effective in its plainness. Whether it's as densely textured as one hopes it will be or not, the fact is that Far from Men is a solid piece of work founded on solid thematic and stylistic grounds.