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TORONTO 2019 Discovery

Review: Pompei

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- John Shank and Anna Falguères deliver a crepuscular tale of unconditional love, starring Garance Marillier and Aliocha Schneider

Review: Pompei
Aliocha Schneider and Garance Marillier in Pompei

In a deserted region, Victor (Aliocha Schneider) and his little brother Jimmy (Auguste Wilhelm) have to fend for themselves. Within the group to which they belong, the cycle of personal misery seems endless. When Victor falls in love with Billie (Garance Marillier), a young girl dreaming of romance, things slowly begin to change for him.

With Pompei [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, presented in the Discovery section of the Toronto International Film Festival, John Shank and Anna Falguères deliver a crepuscular tale, its abstraction as arid as it is romantic, lit up by the unconditional love gripping two children lost in a civilisation in ruins. It is a world of absences — that of the parents, notably — and of desolation, populated by the tormented souls of Pompei. A world crushed by the heat, overpowered by sunsets. A world outside of time and space, impossible to date or place, but in any case, a world falling apart. One where blossoms the romance of two lovers slave to a stifling society, and who will free each other. Or not.

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With this electric love story running through it, the film also follows the journey of Jimmy, younger brother of the lover Victor. Lost in a world without any guidance except for the models of masculinity acted out by the group, he is looking for his place and for direction.

Shot by shot, the film builds around this simple love story, and around Jimmy’s fateful summer, an intense universe as beautiful as it is nerve racking, brought out by Florian Berruti’s cinematography and by the art direction, which helps construct the mysterious atmosphere surrounding this community of lost children. 

The film’s two heroes are played by two young and promising actors, starting with Garance Marillier, revealed in Julia Ducournau’s Raw, who brings her wild intensity to the character of Billie. Completing the couple is musician and actor Aliocha Schneider. Coming from a family of artists — his brother Niels Schneider is well known — Aliocha has been in many films and series in Canada, and was part of TIFF’s prestigious Rising Stars selection.

At their side, we find young French actor Auguste Wilhelm, as well as Vincent Rottiers, recently seen in Angel [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Koen Mortier
film profile
]
and Through the Fire [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
.

Pompei is John Shank’s second feature, after 2011’s Last Winter [+see also:
trailer
interview: John Shank
film profile
]
, presented in the Giornate degli Autori section of the Venice International Film Festival. He co-wrote and co-directed the film with Anne Falguères. Often working as a set designer, she designed the sets of more than fifteen feature films. She thus worked on Last Winter, but also on Joachim Lafosse’s Private Property [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and Our Children [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Joachim Lafosse
film profile
]
, Mia Hansen-Love’s Eden [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Charles Gillibert
interview: Mia Hansen-Løve
film profile
]
and Things to Come [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: Mia Hansen-Løve
film profile
]
, and more recently on Olivier Masset-Depasse’s Mothers' Instinct [+see also:
film review
interview: Olivier Masset-Depasse
film profile
]
.

Pompei is produced by Tarantula, and co-produced by Good Fortune Film (France) and micro_scope (Canada). The film is sold internationally by Jour2fête, and will be released in Belgium next spring by Cinéart.

(Translated from French)

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