Ecoute Le Temps
There are echoes of Brian de Palma’s superb 1981 thriller Blow Out in this low-budget, high-concept drama from writer/director Alanté Kavaïté. A documentary sound engineer Charlotte (Émilie Dequenne, best known for her debut performance in the Dardennes Brothers’ 1999 film Rosetta), returns to the French village where her clairvoyant mother (Ludmila Mikaël) was recently found murdered. The rumour-mongering locals, many of who were clients of the deceased, quickly close ranks against the newcomer. She in turn makes her own startling discovery: that in her mum’s creaking house, her recording equipment can pick ups sounds and conversations from the past, allowing her to piece together the events leading to the murder.
From the opening sequence of a car colliding with a deer in the pouring rain, an ominous mood hangs over Ecoute Le Temps, with Kavaïté’s effectively using motifs of webs, cracks and holes to illustrate Charlotte’s fraught quest for the truth. There are various sub-plots – such as the disappearance of a local child and an environmental conspiracy – which remain undernourished, and the filmmaker resolves the mystery in a fairly perfunctory manner.
Yet anchored by Dequenne’s compelling, often wordless lead performance, this is still a very promising debut feature from Kavaïté.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh, from Fri 28 Sep–Mon 1 Oct.