Thomas Vincent’s bracing first feature is set in Dunkirk during the carnival that’s held in the northern French town every February. Labri (Amar Ben Abdallah), a second-generation Arab who works at his father’s garage, has never been to the carnival. This particular year he becomes involved because he has argued with his father over money and decided to leave town and start a new life in Marseilles. When his trip is delayed, Labri meets Bea (Sylvie Testud) and Chrisian (Clovis Cornillac), a young couple on their way home from the ball and in fairly high spirits. Labri is attracted to Bea and decides to stay a few more days to try his luck. It is the carnival atmosphere that makes such an encounter possible, but the results are far from happy. In his debut, Vincent demonstrates a firm grasp of character and environment. Sylvie Testud is excellent as the woman who engages in an ill-advised fling, and her performance is matched by that of Clovis Cornillac as the blustering, foul-tempered, chauvinistic husband. The other star of the film is the carnival itself, which comes across as quite an amazing event.

France, 1999.
English subtitles.
Dolby stereo SR.
88 min.

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