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BRIFF 2021

Recensione: Totem

di 

- Fred de Loof osa con una commedia in modalità slasher fantastica, un pastiche deliziosamente regressivo che segue un gruppo di adultescenti che rivivono il campo scout che ha cambiato la loro vita

Recensione: Totem
(sx-dx): François Neycken, Elliot Elleboudt, Quentin Marteau, Fred De Loof e Céline Peret in Totem

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

Having turned heads with his decidedly bonkers short films (The Glorious Peanut, Les Pigeons ça chie partout and Caca Boudin), Fred De Loof (who has also helmed the upcoming RTBF series Baraki, the first 26-minute format for the French-language public channel, which is set to be aired at the end of the summer) has now made his feature debut with Totem [+leggi anche:
intervista: Fred De Loof
scheda film
]
, produced with the help of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Film and Audiovisual Centre and its support for lightweight productions, and now selected to partake in the National Competition of the Brussels International Film Festival. It’s a gleefully uncouth comedy, brimming with references to the kinds of genre films that the director is so fond of.

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Twenty years ago, the wolf Scout patrol lost one of their members, young Ludovic, in mysterious circumstances. Two decades later, Buffle (Fred De Loof) is still haunted by his disappearance. It’s an emotional trauma that takes the (somewhat disturbing) form of a Giant Rat that pops up at every turn. A rat… Just like Ludovic’s totem animal, as luck would have it.

Buffle then invites his erstwhile patrol members (François Neycken, Quentin Marteau, Pablo Andres and Xavier Seron) to the site of that accursed camp for a weekend of group therapy that should allow them to confront their old demons. Unfortunately, things will take an unexpected turn when the small group discovers, at the bottom of the hudo (editor’s note: for readers not au fait with Scout habits and customs, the hudo is in fact another name for the latrines), a passage through space and time, no less.

They are therefore faced with the highly unusual phenomenon of a time-travelling hudo. Why settle for reenacting the past when you can actually relive it?

However, don’t let yourself be fooled by this comedy flick that proudly wears its toilet humour on its sleeve, with these kinds of jokes even lying at the very core of its narrative device. Because behind the school-playground jokes lurk genuine school-playground problems. You wouldn’t think it at first glance, but alongside the fresher initiation ritual that young Ludovic is subjected to looms the question of bullying, and even further beyond that, the very question that seems to whip people up into a frenzy today: can we laugh at everything?

We’ll leave it up to each individual to make their own mind up, but it’s nonetheless obvious that many people will indeed laugh while watching Totem, which draws as much on mischievous schoolboy banter as it does on love letters to cinema, piling up the references, cheerily throwing in clichés as well as channelling time-travel movies, slashers and serial-killer flicks. Whether it’s wormholes, temporal paradoxes, copycats or chaos theory, everything, or nearly everything, is chucked in with gay abandon, and there’s a certain predilection for full-on wordplay, too.

It’s a comedy that’s deliciously regressive, as are, incidentally, the performances of the various actors, whether young or not-so-young, who have a field day as they flirt with causing offence and portraying caricatures, to great effect.

In the roles of the “adults”, we find well-known faces from modern Belgian cinema. Fred De Loof, who is also an actor, plays the lead role, and he is flanked by François Neycken (who co-wrote the film and was seen recently in Escapada [+leggi anche:
recensione
trailer
intervista: Sarah Hirtt
scheda film
]
), Quentin Marteau (who’s very busy on the boards, and was also among the cast of Sympathy for the Devil [+leggi anche:
recensione
trailer
intervista: Ella Rumpf
intervista: Guillaume de Fontenay
scheda film
]
and the Arte series Moloch), Pablo Andres (a comedy actor who will soon make an appearance in a completely different register in Entre la vie et la mort by Giordano Gederlini), Céline Peret (who rose to fame in Coquelicots) and director Xavier Seron (who here confirms that his comic timing is just as good in front of the camera as it is behind it).

Totem was produced by 10.80 Films.

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(Tradotto dal francese)

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