Saturday, August 04, 2018

August 32nd on Earth

Written and directed by Denis Villeneuve, Un 32 aout sur terre (August 32nd on Earth) is the story of a model who deals with an existential crisis following an accident as she turns to her best friend in conceiving a child. The film is a road drama of sorts where a woman and her best friend travel following a life-changing event in the hope they can find meaning in their lives. Starring Pascale Bussieres and Alexis Martin. Un 32 aout sur terre is an entrancing and offbeat film from Denis Villeneuve.

Set largely in the span of a few days in the life of a model and her best friend, the film revolves around this woman whose near encounter with death forces her to question her life as she decides to become a mother as she turns to her best friend. It is a film with a simple premise that doesn’t have much plot but it does involve a lot of motivation for two characters whose lives are going nowhere as they would embark on a journey to Salt Lake City from Quebec to find some meaning in their lives. Denis Villeneuve’s screenplay doesn’t have much of a plot as it is more about this woman in Simone Prevost (Pascale Bussieres) who had fallen asleep while driving her car as she had no idea what happened other than having a near-death experience. The experience would drive Simone to make a change as she calls her best friend Philippe (Alexis Martin) who is already in a relationship yet is in love with Simone. He agrees to help her but asks if they can conceive the child in a desert prompting them to go to Salt Lake City. It is there that a lot of questions are raised about their relationship and where will it go.

Villeneuve’s direction is definitely mesmerizing for the way he presents a young woman’s world coming into question as she tries to figure out what to do next with her life following a near-fatal car accident. Shot on location in areas near and in Montreal as well as scenes at the Salt Lake City airport and the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Villeneuve creates a film that does take great usage of the locations as much of the film is shot on these locations with little need for sets as it include this futuristic room made by the Japanese at the Salt Lake City airport as it’s one of the film’s intimate moments that also has bits of comedy. Yet, Villeneuve would maintain an air of intrigue for the scenes at the Salt Flats with the usage of wide shots as well as some precise compositions in those wide shots.

Even as there are scenes in Montreal that has Villeneuve use and medium shots for some of the exteriors as well as some interiors where Villeneuve play into Simone’s relationship with Philippe as two people who are both at crucial periods in their lives though Philippe is the one with a more certain future. Particularly in the third act that is set in Montreal as it is more about Philippe than Simone as the former doesn’t just deal with his own feelings for the latter but also some of the baggage he has in his own personal life and the sacrifice he wants to make for Simone and whatever future she could have. Overall, Villeneuve creates an evocative and haunting film about a woman’s near-death experience and her desire to find meaning in her life with her best friend.

Cinematographer Andre Turpin does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it is straightforward for some of the exteriors including scenes at night while maintaining something colorful and beautiful for many of the daytime exterior scenes in areas near Montreal as well as at the Salt Mines. Editor Sophie Leblond does amazing work with the editing with its stylish usage of jump-cuts, montages, and such to play into the drama as well as some of the more chilling moments in the film. Sound designer Martin Pinsonnault and sound editor Marcel Pothier do excellent work with the sound as it emphasizes on natural sounds and atmosphere to help play up the drama for the locations the characters are in. The film’s music soundtrack consists of music pieces by Nathalie Boileau, Robert Charlebois, Pierre Desrochers, and Jean Leloup that play into some of the drama or the humorous moments in the film.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast include some notable small roles from Ivan Smith and Paule Baillargeon as a couple of doctors that Simone would meet in the film, Evelyne Rompre as Philippe’s girlfriend Juliette, Joanne Cote as Simone’s boss Monica, and Lee C. Fobert as a cab driver in Salt Lake City who drives them to the salt mines. Alexis Martin is fantastic as Philippe as a man that is about to embark a career as a doctor where he decides to help Simone with her plan while dealing with the fact that he’s in love with her. Finally, there’s Pascale Bussieres in an incredible performance as Simone Prevost as a model who had survived a car accident as she deals with the near-death experience forcing her to find meaning in her life as it’s a low-key yet effective performance from Bussieres.

Un 32 aout sur terre is a sensational film from Denis Villeneuve that features great performances from Pascale Bussieres and Alexis Martin. Along with its intoxicating visuals, simple premise, and minimalist approach to filmmaking, it is a truly a fascinating and rapturous feature-length debut film from Villeneuve who play into the existential crises of two friends who are in love with each other. In the end, Un 32 aout sur terre is an incredible film from Denis Villeneuve.

Denis Villeneuve Films: MaelstromPolytechniqueIncendies - Prisoners (2013 film) - Enemy - Sicario - Arrival (2016 film) - Blade Runner 2049 - Dune-Part One (2021 film) - Dune-Part Two - (Dune: Messiah) - The Auteurs #68: Denis Villeneuve

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