La tortue rouge [The Red Turtle] (2016)

La tortue rouge
Director: Michael Dudok de Wit
Writer: Michael Dudok de Wit, Pascale Ferran
Cast: Emmanuel GarijoBarbara Beretta, Tom Hudson, Baptiste Goy, Axel Devillers
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 1.10.2016
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
A man (Emmanuel Garijo) is shipwrecked and only barely makes it to land on a deserted island. He is a survivor and immediately starts with preparing a raft to leave the island. But a giant red turtle patrols the sea and destroys it. And the raft after that. And the raft after that. But when the turtle comes ashore, the man has his chance for revenge. But are they actually enemies?

La tortue rouge is a gorgeous film with a story that raised my eyebrow(s) more than once as I couldn’t really turn off my head to enjoy the film as would have probably been advisable. But I still liked it.

[SPOILERS]

I guess you first have to accept the central conceit of the story and that’s not that the red turtle turns into a woman – that I had no problem with – but that nothing spells romance like hitting a turtle over the head and fucking the woman it turns into. If you don’t have a problem with that, that’s a good start to enjoy the film. For me, that wasn’t the case, but I was able to deal with it.

Much more problematic, for me, were the fact that she doesn’t speak (presumably because she’s a turtle) and neither does he, although he is generally able to, neither with her nor with the child they ultimately have. If they had developed their own sign language for each other, I wouldn’t have minded at all, but so it just struck me as weird and also offensive to people who rely on sign language as it seems to say that if you can’t talk with your mouth, you don’t even have to try to speak.

I also started picking apart some of the plot points: why do they have only one child, despite years of unprotected sex on that island? Why not have fire earlier in the story? That I started to ask these questions is already sign enough that I wasn’t really in the story.

That I did like the film regardless of all those points is a testament to both the beautiful images and the way the story is told, the atmosphere it creates. And I did like it, even if the majority of this review points out flaws. All movies have them and La tortue rouge has less than many films.

Summarizing: Maybe you’ll be able to turn your head off more than I did – it’s definitely worth a try.

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