Three Worlds is a very heavy secret
by Fabien Lemercier
24/05/2012 - How much is the life of an unimportant man worth in modern day France ? To what extent can morality accept the law of silence and suppress feelings of guilt ? Is the selfishness of success soluble in the blood of others and in money? Several Dostoyevskian themes which Catherine Corsini tackles through the prism of a tragic and hard-hitting film noir: Three Worlds [trailer]. Unveiled today in the Un Certain Regard selection of the 65th Cannes Film Festival, the feature film also gives Raphaël Personnaz the opportunity to reveal a new facet of a talent who emerged on the Croisette two years ago in The Princess of Montpensier [trailer].Cast against a James Gray-style crepuscular atmosphere, and a suspense-filled scenario, the film manages, despite some minor faults, to maintain the balance between a stimulating form and a very thoughtful content which, like a razor blade, keeps cutting through the surface of the plot.
It's night-time and three friends who've had a few drinks, led by Al (Personnaz), are partying, playing dangerous games behind the wheel of a powerful car, with blasting music and high speeds through the Paris streets. Then comes the shock : they run over a man and run off. But Juliette (Clotilde Hesme) has seen everything out of her window, particularly Al who had got out of his car before letting himself be led away by his friends. A good soul, she tells Vera (Arta Dobroshi), the victim's wife, a Moldovan illegal immigrant, a generous gesture which will lead her into a dangerous story. Because Al is racked with remorse, even though he has everything to be happy about since he is getting married in ten days and his father-in-law has just named him manager of his car dealership. The young man goes to the hospital, is recognised by Juliette and is dragged into a spiral to preserve a secret which could cost him dearly…
Sculpting a very accurate portrait of a man who is threatened with seeing his social success crumble, one which he has built through his own blood, sweat and tears, a man who has always turned a blind eye on dirty tricks (black money) and who struggles with a spiral of lies unleashed by his sense of guilt, Three Worlds progresses at a fairly hectic rhythm. Watched over by some (the two friends who took part in the hit-and-run, his future father-in-law for whom money and family are the pour qui l'argent et la famille sont les valeurs étalon du comportement, sa compagne qui le voit s'assombrir) and hunted by others (the Moldavians who want to identify the person responsible for the accident to avenge the victim, Al gets increasingly tangled up in lies. And the tolerant and ambiguous Juliette will also come up against the inevitable reality when comes down to a question of life and death.
Through a very well oiled plot, out of which no one will come out unscathed, Catherine Corsini also tackles the subject of illegal immigrants and their economic survival. More dynamic in its first part and less convincing in its romantic part (Juliette, who is not very fulfilled at home, falls for Al), the film still keeps all its Hitchcockian promises against a meticulous mise en scène and very good lighting by Claire Mathon. And the fusion of a particular genre with an intelligent psychological and social content confirms all the qualities of a director whose career already counts four Cannes.
(Translated from French)