Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hot Docs 2014 Film Review - Ne Me Quitter Pas

Opening with a heart wrenching scene chronicalling the death of a marriage Ne Me Quitte Pas sets the tone early for the viewer makes them well aware that this documentary about two older men drinking constantly in the woods will not be a feel good story.

We first meet Marcel and his wife as they discuss their separation. The couple has three small children meaning that their decision will have a significant impact on 5 lives in total. Marcel is clearly not ready to end the marriage as he makes fleecing half joking attempts for one more intimate encounter.

The piece moves ahead to the other main character Bob who has picked out a tree where he wants to be near when he carries out his plan to kill himself. Marcel now sensing that he has nothing to live for decides that he wants to join Bob in his plan but the event is derailed due to unexpected developments surrounding Bob's tree.

Directors Sabine Lubbe Bakker and Niels van Koevorden spent two years with the lead actors gathering footage to tell their story. The interaction between the two is so seamless that at times it feels that the production is a scripted piece (which it is not). The directors explain that they spent an extraordinary amount of time with the pair in order to get the magical exchanges between the two that are presented on screen.

Throughout the piece Marcel and Bob spend time together discussing their lives and how things did not work out for the best.  Marcel constantly speaking about his 16 years of marriage that has evaporated while Bob laments the fact that his son has not come to see him in the woods for far to long.  While they talk mainly at a table propped up against a brick wall Marcel drinks beer and wine as Bob makes his way through his daily allotment of 1.5 litres of rum.

One of the best and cringworthy sequences in the piece occurs parts when the protagonists both go for back to back appointments at the dentist. Marcel is up first legs spread wide as the dentist digs into his mouth with various sharp squealing instruments.  Bob is up next much more relaxed legs crossed as he endures the removal of a tooth right on screen.

The narrative is very physical and raw mainly due to Marcel who is often extremely inebriated and not able to property function. The film features some sections where the actions of the two are down right dangerous and plants the question in the back of the viewers mind as the event plays out if the directors need to stop filming and step in to stop the action.

Marcel eventually makes an attempt at Rehab while Bob manages to get some time with his son while he is in town for a day.

Overall these are two men in the later stages of life who are locked into a way of living and acting that is not easy to change.

***1/2 Out of 4.

Ne Me Quitte Pas | Sabine Lubbe Bakker, Niels van Koevorden | Netherlands /Belgium 2013  90 Minutes.

Tags: Alcoholism , Divorce, Rural, Woods, Suicide, Rehab, Flemish, Walloons, Roxette.

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