Wednesday, 7 October 2015

REVIEW - FIDELIO: ALICE'S ODYSSEY (LUCIE BORLETEAU)


A gently provocative film, one whose carefree candour may shock some but beguile others. It's perceptive and insightful, and wholly unassuming, eschewing traditional cinematic concerns such as form or style, instead choosing to traverse the structure of the mind, a map of the body, as its protagonist charts a map across the oceans of the world. Lucie Borleteau's film is rich in its intelligence and generous toward its cast, an international ensemble with an unfussy naturalism about them. If Fidelio: Alice's Odyssey is not the kind of film that lingers long in the memory, it's one that could provide equally enjoyable viewing experiences if rediscovered some years from now. Loose and unhurried, the film resembles the kind of female-focused (and often female-made) works of the 1960s and '70s in France, exploring the minds of their characters through active participation in explicit scenes of sex, and passive acknowledgement of these characters' psychological enigmas. Alice wouldn't let anybody truly know nor understand her, despite her physical openness, and thus nor shall we, though we both know and understand that we do not, and there's an appropriateness to this approach to characterisation from Borleteau and her vibrant lead performer Ariane Labed. And that physical openness is just as revealing - Fidelio has a pitch-perfect appreciation of sexuality and its role in narrative cinema, as keenly constructed as in the best pornography and sometimes equally arousing, though considerably less graphic. These such provocations are rendered nothing of the sort in being so finely handled.