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RENAISSANCE, 2006
Movie Reviews!

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RENAISSANCE MOVIERENAISSANCE, 2006
Movie Reviews

Directed by Christian Volckman

Cast: Daniel Craig, Ian Holm, Romola Garai, Kevork Malikyan, Catherine McCormack, Jonathan Pryce, Robert Dauney, Crystal Shepherd-Cross
Review by Stefan Leverton


SYNOPSIS:

In 2054, Paris is a labyrinth where all movement is monitored and recorded. Casting a shadow over everything is the city's largest company, Avalon, which insinuates itself into every aspect of contemporary life to sell its primary export -- youth and beauty. In this world of stark contrasts and rigid laws the populace is kept in line and accounted for.

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REVIEW:

Renaissance is a highly stylised French film noir set in an Orwellian or Huxley-esque future. When the dazzling visual effects are stripped away the story underneath is very much classic film noir. In a time when heavy contrasting, almost comic art style is popular, in a fashion spear headed by the likes of Sin City, itís hard to ignore what is this films best and most striking asset, its look. However, Iím glad there was substance to this artistic endeavour and there was more than just superficial delights to be had.

Set in Paris 2042, the world and its people are under constant monitoring by major corporation Avalon that promotes happiness through beauty and health. When Avalon employee, Ilona, is kidnapped the company turn to world weary cop, Karas to track her down. He enlists her sister, Bislane to help out and soon they are uncovering far more than a simple kidnapping.

In spite of its futuristic setting the film has a film noir core. Karas is a sort of anti-hero and Bislane his femme fatale, who becomes the object of his desires the more time they spend together trying to find her sister. The most dramatic noir reference though is the way the film is presented. Itís black and white, with no tones, which makes for sharp viewing that may take a few minutes for your eyes to adjust to (and is even more annoying with white subtitles if you watch the French version as I did first time round, but there is an English dubbed version out there, so donít despair).

This method harks back to original black and white noir films of the forties and fifties, but this is a modern extreme version which befits the story perfectly. When considering the world the movie portrays, one where people feel there is no escape from the light cast by the major corporation, but one full of shadows as uncovered by the investigation led by Karas, and Bislane.

They discover issues of identity theft, missing files and something from 2006 which could impact on events today including involvement from a Japanese researcher. Itís this story with its allegory about consumerism as well as corporate totalitarianism and corruption which will grip any viewer, but itís the stunning visual style that will leave the lasting impression, which is kind of a shame when there is such a good thriller there to entertain as well. Even the human side of the drama is a great aspect of the story as Karas and Bislaneís relationship develops and the tension rises as the search for Ilona goes on.

Overall though the choice to use the block monochrome visuals mayíve been a necessary one as without it there mayíve been nothing to really set the film apart, and set it apart it does, as this is quite like nothing youíll ever see. Itís a first of its kind and any other that employs the same technique will owe a great debt to it. Others have certainly turned the hue to an advantage, used colour as a motif, but to create such a wonderful looking film effectively without colour is some achievement.

Review by Stefan Leverton 23/02/10

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