News from the Locarno Festival

Dans la forêt

Piazza Grande

Dans la forêt


© 2016 Les films de Françoise, Film Väst, GötaFilm International


French filmmaker and prolific screenwriter Gilles Marchand has always harbored a taste for mystery, understood both as a puzzle to solve and as a dual layer of perception. As if an alternative truth was hidden behind the surface. His previous efforts as a director, Qui a tué Bambi? (Who Killed Bambi?) and L'Autre Monde (Black Heaven), conveyed this sense of the unknown and of looming danger. So it is with a judicious intuition that he chose to tell his latest story, Dans la forêt, from the point of view of children, not only because this perspective will have everything appear bigger, farther, darker and scarier. But also because their obvious vulnerability will scandalize and disturb viewers, young and old alike.

Tom and Benjamin haven’t seen their father, who lives in Sweden, for a long time. Although reluctantly, their mother has agreed that he looks after the boys for the holidays. But as soon as they arrive, communication proves awkward. To them, he’s not only a stranger. He is strange. The man does not even deny it. Instead, he implies that Tom may have inherited from him certain special gifts, and he takes them on an unplanned trip into the forest, where he plans to find answers.

The precocious Timothé Vom Dorp is impeccable as Tom. His wide eyes project an interesting mix of feelings and thoughts, between a child’s immediate need for trust and reassurance on the one hand, and the contrary and cross-checking tendency of a constantly learning brain on the other. And Jérémie Elkaïm’s performance as the troubled father is spot-on. His open face and limpid expression are perfectly suited to induce discomfort and rock us around the blurry edge that separates innocence and madness. The contrast between his amiable veneer and his luring aggressiveness slowly convinces us that these kids may be in trouble.

Aurélie Godet

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