This French pitch-black comedy takes several lives that occasionally intertwine and puts them in both horrendous and mundane situations.
Olivier (Oliver Saladin) and Laurence (Lorella Cravotta), a couple in their sixties, are suffering from crippling debt and their only hope is to win a rock dance competition. Their son is a neurotic lawyer, Alexandre (Alexandre Steiger) who’s tasked with helping the country’s finance minister, Stéphane (Christophe Paou) get out of a sticky situation with the media. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Louise (Lilith Grasmug) is getting checked out by a gynaecologist as she’s preparing to have sex for the first time. How these threads play out is for the viewer to discover. One thing’s for sure, you won’t see it coming.
Directed and co-written (alongside Amélie Philippe and Yohann Gloaguen) by Jean-Christophe Meurisse, Bloody Oranges has the feel of a Gallic Robert Altman movie with a dash of Wes Anderson and just a smidge of the darkness of David Lynch and Paul Thomas Anderson. It takes its time to get going, allowing us to understand the characters - and providing some very un-PC laugh-out-loud moments - before things really kick in and the story becomes much more brutal and horrific. It never loses its sense of humour, though.
There’s a morality to Meurisse’s film and characters get their just deserts as well as a sprinkling of irony. Essentially, it’s about humanity and the lack of connection some people have. For example, during one meeting about the country’s finance, cuts are proposed for the poor and welfare, while nothing will affect those making the decisions.
The soundtrack (supervised by Thibault Deboaisne) is superb, with brooding passages bringing to mind the work of Michael Nyman. The closing sequence is set to a beautiful cover of Colin Vearncombe’s Wonderful Life, topping things off perfectly.
Bloody Oranges is one of those films that it’s best not to know too much going in, but will reward repeat viewings.Bloody Oranges is available on digital now.