News  ·  02 | 08 | 2023

Endless Slapstick and Mix-ups

Abel & Gordon | Opening Ceremony

© Laurent Thurin Nal

Fiona is an Australian-born Canadian, Dom was born and raised in Belgium, and together they’re Abel and Gordon, giving life and soul to the characters in their films. Fond of movement and situational comedy, they met in Paris during their studies and happily cite gag masters like Jacques Tati, Buster Keaton, Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy as their influences. Together on screen and in life, they first began collaborating via live performance. The title of their first short, Merci Cupidon, goes hand in hand with the name of their production company, the most beautiful name in the world: Courage Mon Amour.

Ever since that first short, their cinematic journey has been unique in the contemporary film landscape. Their group of circus artists (who also do numerous live shows) consists of an early creative partner from their first feature LIceberg: Bruno Romy, subsequently joined by Philippe Martz and more recently by Kaori Ito. LIceberg was followed by Rumba and The Fairy, both co-directed by Romy, and then Lost in Paris.

L’Étoile Filante, the title of their fifth feature film, is a bar in Belgium, populated by tenderly desperate characters. Boris, the bartender, has been living in hiding for 35 years, due to his involvement in an attack that went horribly wrong. His past resurfaces when one of the victims finds him and seeks vengeance.

The appearance of Dom, a depressed man who is the spitting image of Boris, provides the former activist with the perfect means to escape. Boris and his wife Kayoko, assisted by their doorman Tim, weave a sinister web around Dom, unaware of the existence of his ex-wife Fiona, a private detective.

The film combines mix-ups and slapstick in danced form with the precision of a Swiss clock. The characters are far from static against a lively colored backdrop. They live through dance or rather through bounds, moved by sometimes mechanical gestures. The body drives the action, in the pure tradition of burlesque.

We laugh wholeheartedly with Dom, his doppelganger Boris, and Fiona. Tragedy is never far removed from great hilarity. When the film is over, one wants to know and hug Dom and Fiona, and thank them for this heartwarming, wonderful film. 

Mathilde Henrot