Saturday, May 23, 2009

Guy Even Watch French Movies (but rarely)

Le Pacte des Loups (The Brotherhood of the Wolf) from Umvd Studios
One of the more amusing descriptions of this movie was “Crouching Tiger; Hidden Werewolf”. It is not a bad synopsis. The movie is, at its core, a werewolf movie with token gestures towards detective work and period piece. It is also a foreign film (subtitled into English) and, worse yet, it is French. With all of this weighing in against it, why would anyone watch? The answer is surprisingly simple: it’s well-done, and it’s pretty to watch.
The movie is not high art but it is artistic. The plot, though simple, is nuanced in places and well-executed. The straightforward nature of the characters clears the way for the viewer to enjoy the visuals and action. A minimum of complicated dialogue negates much of the distraction caused by subtitling a movie. In short, the movie is just plain fun to watch.
The settings are gorgeous, eccentric, and colorful. The cinematography is occasionally a bit too artsy but overall above average and, at times, brilliantly experimental. The fight choreography is on par with the Hong Kong cinema. The acting is solid and does not get in the way of the film. The use of sound effects and music accentuates the on screen action quite nicely. Though easily overlooked, the placement and timing of the subtitles on screen are a masterful technical stroke which makes the foreign film accessible. The viewer is never presented with the decision between reading dialoged and missing a key element on screen and the subtitles do not distract from the natural flow of the viewing experience.
Le Pacte des Loups is not high cinema but it is one of the most enjoyable werewolf movies since the Howling. Even if werewolves do not appeal to you, the fight scenes are a visual blast worth watching as well.

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