A Lost Man review

:. Director: Danielle Arbid
:. Starring: Melvil Poupaud, Carol Abboud
:. Script: Danielle Arbid
:. Running Time: 1:37
:. Year: 2007
:. Country: France


Antoine D' Agata , one of the most talented French photographers of the VU photography agency inspired director Danielle Arbid's story about a search for identity.

On a journey to the Middle East, a French photographer is in search of extreme experiences. In the intimacy of hotel rooms, he focuses his camera on his frolicking with prostitutes. He crosses paths with a solitary man who carries a heavy secret. He hires him as an interpreter and tries to find out more about this "lost man" who left Beirut seventeen years ago, his hands covered in blood. Naturally selfish and manipulative, the artist ends up experiencing otherness through contact with his mysterious assistant. Danielle Arbid films the shock of bodies and cultures expressed in the conflictive relationship between the two main characters. The film unfolds like a revelation, similar to the chemical processes which make it possible for a photograph to materialize, and it's an artistic as well as human revelation. The photographer will no longer look at the world as before with the end of a journey where he separates from his dominating stance.

The film raises the question of the preeminence of art about "otherness". That of the predatory artist, tracking the bodies which he then forces and constrains to fit his aesthetic, as well as sexual desire. Nudity is revealed under the photographer's camera: a provocation in countries where sexuality, as well as prostitution, is concealed to the eye. Because he doesn't respect his host country, the Frenchman ends up being roughed up. But that's the price to be paid so that his provocative photographic oeuvre gains its additional intensity. Little of his work will be seen, beside a few pictures being sorted, back in Paris.

Danielle Arbid retains only the mechanical gesture of capturing the image, these moments stolen from intimacy. It is one of the first frustrations the film causes for those who admire Agata's work and his stunning nudes. At heart, A Lost Man is absolutely not a film on photography. The director of Lebanese origin films in HD, most of the time in natural light, which gives the image a coarse grain, closer to Agata's stereotypes, the inhabitant of the night who is not presented on his best day.

Deeply antipathetic, the photographer's character is difficult to get around and following him in this prolonged existential road movie is difficult. The film suffers from length and from an absence of the idea of mise en scene. Which leads to the actors. Poupaud is convincing in this role where he again plays a photographer, as he did in Time to Leave by Fran├žois Ozon. But one will remain haunted by his fictional alter ego, the troubling Alexander Siddig, seen in season six of the TV series 24 and in the excellent Syriana. Feverish, opaque, he carries the piece, insufflating emotion in his troubled character.

  Sandrine Marques
  Translated into English by Anji Milanovic

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