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A striking portrait of a rural outsider who holds a potent sway over others, this latest from controversial French auteur Bruno Dumont is an exploration of the spiritual forces which surround us – be they sacred or profane. The ambiguity in the French title isn’t quite translatable (since it means both ‘beyond Satan’ and ‘Satan outside’), but it is a key to understanding the divergent interpretations available as rough-sleeping drifter David Dewaele commits murder and magic in and around a village on the Opal Coast ‘twixt Calais and Boulogne.
Is this charismatic figure healing the sick or possessing them? Angel or demon? Dewaele’s extraordinary screen presence hints at both and Dumont’s direction remains, as ever from the maker of Flanders and Hadewijch, scrupulously austere, taking painterly time to savour the changing light over the dunes. The result is a film which prompts us to ponder the basis of our own beliefs, suggesting that Dumont remains the truest heir to the great Robert Bresson. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)
Dr. Douglas Smith, Head of French and Francophone Studies at UCD, will introduce the IFI French Film Club screening of this film on January 8th at 20.30. IFI and Alliance Française members can avail of a special discounted ticket price of €7 for this screening by booking with the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or when visiting.