The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - BLOODY ORANGES | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema/VOD] - BLOODY ORANGES

bloody oranges review
Several characters' lives intersect with disastrous consequences.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Jean-Christophe Meurisse

Starring: Alexandre Steiger, Lorella Cravotta, Olivier Saladin, Lilith Grasmug, Christophe Paou, Denis Podalydès

bloody oranges poster

With his third film, Bloody Oranges, director Jean-Christophe Meurisse delivers a caustic state of the nation address to his native France. As in most western countries, the culture wars have split France in two like the blade of a guillotine. No social gathering - be it the judging of a dance contest, post-coital chit chat or a family birthday dinner - is free from politics entering the conversation, something Meurisse mines for some effective Larry David-esque comic sequences.

bloody oranges review

Imagine if Pulp Fiction had been written by Todd Solondz and you'll have some idea of what's in store here. Meurisse introduces us to a variety of characters whose lives will ultimately intersect with disastrous consequences. An elderly couple (Lorella Cravotta and Olivier Saladin) enter a provincial rock n' roll dance contest in the hope that they can use the prize money to pay off their crippling debts. Their son Alexandre (Alexandre Steiger) is a cynical, social climbing lawyer whose latest client is France's Secretary of Finance (Christophe Paou), whose ferreting away of funds in an offshore account is under threat of exposure by a journalist. A teenage girl (Lilith Grasmug) prepares to lose her virginity at an upcoming party by visiting a gynaecologist (Blanche Gardin) who mourns the ravages of time on her own genitalia. An oddball lives on a farm, casually sharing his Chinese takeaway with a wild boar in his living room. Like the recent similarly themed Hungarian ensemble black comedy Treasure City, a taxi driver circles the outskirts of the narrative.

bloody oranges review

In its opening acts Bloody Oranges plays almost like a comedy sketch show. Characters appear in vignettes, not unlike the recent films of Roy Andersson, and it's only later in the film that the connections between the various players are revealed. Much of the humour is at the expense of neoliberalism, with one particularly cutting scene involving a meeting of politicians seeking a way to cut their budget by portraying single mothers, students, immigrants et al as scroungers. Elsewhere we see how this mentality has infected the wider public as a debate is held by the judges of a dance contest over whether or not to award a disabled contestant for simply participating.

bloody oranges review

It's in the final act that Bloody Oranges takes a turn into some very dark territory. It's often asked whether the male rape scene in Pulp Fiction would make it into a movie today and whether it would have the same comic impact. Bloody Oranges provides an answer by including a similar scene that manages to be both deeply disturbing and undeniably hilarious. Another taboo that I can't mention for the sake of spoilers is similarly played effectively for laughs, though its denouement is so unabashedly romantic that Meurisse can't be accused of being nothing more than a cynical shock merchant. Meurisse clearly has contempt for the people currently in charge of his country, but his affection for those trying to keep their heads above water is clear to see.

Bloody Oranges
 is in UK cinemas and VOD from September 16th.

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