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Dernière Séance by Laurent Achard

Dernière Séance by Laurent Achard

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Sylvain, a solitary and taciturn young man, is the projectionist in an ancient local cinema. The venue is soon to close, due to lack of audience, but Sylvain can’t face this reality and continues to keep screening the same film, Jean Renoir’s French Cancan, to a handful of cinéphiles, loyal devotees of the cinema. Sylvain has one other obsession apart from the cinema: by night he murders women in a macabre ritual, haunted by traumatic memories of his mother.

Dernière Séance, the third feature film from French director Laurent Achard, signals his return to competition at Locarno where he won the Pardo for mise en scène in 2006 for his previous film Le Dernier des fous, also featuring his favourite actor, Pascal Cervo.

Laurent Achard is a fascinating and unusual filmmaker, just like his new film Dernière Séance. Dernière Séance is part of a project to commission French directors to make low budget genre films, based on the old B movie model. In this particular case, we are closer to Bresson rather than pale imitations of recent American hits. Dernière Séance is perhaps a genre film, but only in the way that Psycho could said to be so (Sylvain as a close relative of Norman Bates) or The Shining, i.e. transcended by an far stronger concept than that of the usual horror or thriller film formula: that of mise en scène. Achard is a brilliant stylist, and his film is a love letter to cinema.

Olivier Père
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