Director: Jean-Christophe Meurisse
Writer: Yohann Gloaguen, Jean-Christophe Meurisse, Amélie Philippe
Cast: Alexandre Steiger, Christophe Paou, Lilith Grasmug, Olivier Saladin, Lorella Cravotta, Fred Blin, Denis Podalydès, Blanche Gardin, Patrice Laffont, Vincent Dedienne
Part of: SLASH Film Festival
Seen on: 3.10.2021
Content Note: rape
Alexandre (Alexandre Steiger) is an attorney working for a minister (Christophe Paou), his job turning ever more into keeping the minister from being embroiled in scandal. What Alexandre doesn’t know is that his parents (Lorella Cravotta, Olivier Saladin) are in trouble, too, financially. But they are convinced they can solve everything by winning a dance competition despite their age. Meanwhile teenager Louise (Lilith Grasmug) is preparing for sleeping with her boyfriend for the first time.
Bloody Oranges starts well enough with a very critical, biting sense of humor. But after setting up its characters, the film changes pace and that change didn’t work for me at all. In fact, I was considering just getting up and leaving for a while. In the end, I did leave a few minutes early to catch my train back home in a less stressful way, but I wish I would have caught an even earlier train and skipped this film.
As I said, the film starts off very well. The scene where the dance jury comments on their participants and two kinds of ableism are pitted against each other. The pillow talk scene where almost entire talk is misogynistic and definitely very sexist. The meeting where a group of people, including the minister, callously discuss where to quickly save a few million for the state. The financial talk with the Alexandre’s parents. Those scenes were sharp, funny and highly critical of society.
The only scene that didn’t really want to fit into this opening salvo for me was the scene at the gynecologist that Louise visits. I mean, yes, the doctor was way too much concerned with the ageing of the vulva and what to do against it, but she also took her time, answered all of Louise’s questions and explained in a completely non-judgemental way. I don’t find much to criticize there and it felt weird to have this interaction in the middle of scenes where pretty much everyone is a bigot.
But the real trouble only starts after those scenes, when the rapist (Fred Blin) shows up. Because of his first choice of victim, I guess we’re supposed to laugh (and then later repent when he chooses a more sympathetic victim), but I just can’t. There are too many rape jokes in the world, and I find none of them funny, no matter who the victim is. Plus, the film seems to celebrate the violence and the torture, only to judge the audience for watching this celebration at the same time.
Generally, the film has such a cynical, hopeless view of life that I just couldn’t bear it. And not because I don’t want to face harsh truths or any such shit, but because ignoring all the good stuff is just as misguided as ignoring all the bad stuff. And that’s just what the film does here: it mistakes bleakness for depth. And I don’t want any part of that.