The horrors of war are whittled down to the most basic essentials in Andre Techine's hypnotic "Strayed", a smart and thoughtful wartime drama that contains yet another superlative performance from the lovely Emmanuelle Beart.Based on Gilles Perrault's novel The Boy with Grey Eyes and brought to life by well-admired French filmmaker Andre Techine (Alice and Martin), Strayed presents one desperate family's quietly disturbing adventures following Germany's WWII air raids on France.
Recently widowed mother Odile must protect her two children following a particularly horrific bomb attack. The terrified trio take to the back woods of France and promptly come across young Yvan -- a mysteriously odd teenager who claims to have survived the same air raid. Together with 13-year-old Philippe and 7-year-old Cathy, Odile and Yvan find themselves 'borrowing' a secluded little farmhouse out in the middle of the vast countryside. It's there that the foursome hope to wait out most of the wartime violence, only the food is in short supply, there's an ever-present threat of being discovered...plus it soon becomes clear that Yvan is not exactly who he claims to be.
Intent to focus more on the wartime-induced displacement and confusion felt by the 'common folk' than any sort of wide-scale battlefield intensity, Strayed is a quietly winning and entirely compelling little film. The audience is as curious about Yvan as the mother and her kids clearly are; Odile doesn't fully trust the newcomer, yet is compelled to cooperate in an effort to protect her children. There's a slow intensity that builds up throughout the film, as we're never really sure of Yvan's full intentions --plus we just know that somebody's bound to show up at the farmhouse eventually and demand some answers.
Techine's gorgeous cinematography captures the pastoral splendor of the French countryside, though there's a moodiness to the affair which tells us that things probably aren't going to end pleasantly. The opening sequence, laden with terrifying wartime intensity, leads to a quieter rumination on how a "world war" affects the simple family unit.The painfully lovely Emmanuelle Beart continues her string of great performances in fine films; not bad for a gal who used to be known as 'just another model turned actress'.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.