DVD Review – Left Bank

Left Bank

Quite often I find the state of the modern horror movie intensely depressing, with far too many flaccid remakes, sequels and shiny nonsense that lack tension, pace and good scares. However once again a European film has restored my faith and brought a shiver of disquiet on a bright summer morning.

Left Bank (Linkeroever) is the first full length movie by Pieter Van Hees, which he intends to be part of a trilogy called Anatomy of Love and Pain, focuses on 22 year old aspiring athlete Marie (Eline Kuppens). Freshly qualified for a European championship event, she is devastated when a mystery virus stops her from training, but finds solace in the arms of a young archer, Bobby (Matthias Schoienaerts). He invites her to stay with him at his apartment in the Left Bank district of Antwerp, while she recuperates. Their idyllic new romance is threatened however when Marie starts to investigate the disappearance of a young woman who lived in the apartment previously. As she investigates further, she realises that some of the medieval folklore of the Left Bank area still has relevance and import in the modern world.

Left Bank is a brooding, slow burning, intelligent movie. Van Hees spends plenty of time building up the relationship between Marie and Bobby, and then equal care and attention pulling it back down as Marie becomes obsessed by curious events. To add to the tension there is an unexpectedly surprising element of body horror that adds to Marie’s dis-satisfaction and unease about her new life.

Kuppens, reminiscent of Selma Blair has exactly the right mix of strength and vulnerability for this role, while Schoienaerts transitions seamlessly from charming to confrontational to threatening. Beautifully shot, the film takes us on what appears to be a familiar path, before moving in unexpected ways. This is a fantastic, haunting film, which has been compared to Rosemary’s Baby but is in fact more reminiscent of Let the Right One In. No screaming teens, no torture porn, Left Bank is psychological unease at its very best.

This was originally posted on 22nd May, 2010 over at Blogomatic3000

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on May 25, 2010.

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