Realism doesn’t get much rawer than it does for the homeless protagonists freezing through a Parisian New Year’s Eve in Pariah. Director Nicolas Klotz and scriptwriter Elisabeth Perceval’s film is a grim and graphic portrait of lives losing their last finger-hold on mainstream society’s bottom rungs. Yet there is a surprising, lyrical glimmer of hope in the bleak night’s aftermath, suggesting these ostracised charactersoat least two of themomight yet turn their bad luck around. Undeniably challenging stuff, with an ultra-gritty video-shot style to match the quasi-verite narrative, Pariah nonetheless packs a cumulative emotional power.
Offbeat structure begins as acquaintances Victor (Cyril Troley) and Momo (Gerald Thomassin) are picked up by the police during some drunk-‘n’-disorderly street sparring. Moustachioed hustler Momo is unperturbed. But distraught Victor panics during the long bus ride to a city-outskirts shelter, protesting he’s ‘not a tramp’oto the weary amusement of both fellow-traveller vagrants and arresting officers. A ’36 Hours Earlier’ inter-title then triggers a look at what circumstances brought the two young men to this point. . . .
This third fictional feature for Klotz, who is better known for his artist-portrait documentaries, impresses first as an extended quasi-documentary vignette of pathetic yet none too sympathetic characters credibly sliding from bad circumstances to worse. They gradually get under our skin, however, and the impact of the final sequenceowhich might seem trite in a less painstakingly realistic packageois transcendentally moving.oDennis Harvey/Variety. France, 2001. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo SR. 124 min.
Director Nicolas Klotz will introduce his film.