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Hot Property: Donoma

By Nicolas Rapold

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Cri de Coeur

Feted as an indie phenomenon in France—un film-guérrilla de Djinn Carrénard, per the poster—this serial gabfest rarely takes a breath in beading together the romantic travails of its Paris-banlieue characters. The Haitian-born director’s microbudget debut feature sets the stakes high from the get-go: Spanish teacher Analia (Emilia Dérou-Bernal) puts insolent student Nacio (Vincente Perez) in his place after class with a shocking sexual power play—which she recounts to her incredulous friends. The entire 133-minute movie, in fact, is like a long story recounted with spontaneous digressions intact, all shot by someone who’s been watching Cassavetes and Denis and seems inspired by Abdellatif Kechiche (an avowed fan of the film).

Love among an assortment of teens and twentysomethings is pushed and pulled by folly, need, and aggression. Reasoning that randomness is healthier, photographer Chris (Laura Kpegli) picks Dama (Sékouba Doucouré) to love, after spotting him on a subway platform—but he turns out to be a shiftless model who goaded his previous girlfriend into kicking him out. Salma (Salomé Blechmans) talks of her devotion to the unfaithful Nacio but has problems to spare with a prickly terminally ill sister. (Salma also has stigmata, but, amidst the never-ending dramas, that miracle is set aside until the end.)

Carrénard has carried some of these characters over from earlier shorts (White Girl in Her Panty and Le Nègre Joyeux). Much of the excitement over his direction comes from his habit of impulsively lurching one minute or one scene deeper into someone’s life. Having completed the (Not So) Little 150-Euro Movie That Could, it’ll be intriguing to see where Carrénard launches himself next.

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