L’enfer

Synopsis: Award-winning director Danis Tanovic (NO MAN’S LAND) directs a glittering French cast in HELL, the second of three films based on Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Heaven, Purgatory, Hell trilogy.

In Paris in the 1980s, a man, fresh from his release from prison, is rejected by his wife. After a violent confrontation he throws himself from his apartment window, witnessed by his three young daughters. In present day Paris, the sisters, now grown up, live their own lives. The family bonds are broken. Sophie (Emmanuelle Béart), the eldest, is married with young children, but suspects her photographer husband of having an affair. The youngest sister, Anne (Marie Gillain), is a student involved in a messy relationship with one of her tutors. Middle sister Celine (Karin Viard) lives a solitary and joyless life, caring for her difficult mother (Carole Bouquet). When a young man starts to take an interest in her, she little suspects the true motive behind his approaches.
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L’enfer 8.0

In the second part of the Krzysztof Kieslowski/Krzysztof Piesiewicz ‘Heaven-Hell-Purgatory’ trilogy, we find ourselves following the stories of three sisters who are each dealing with their own private Hells. The drama inherent to each of their lives is firmly rooted in their interpersonal relationships with men and it stems from a childhood incident that they all experienced – an event that they will all be forced to confront once and for all by the film’s conclusion.

The cast is solid. Emmanuelle Béart, Karin Viard and Marie Gillain all provide us with a well-defined sense of what is brimming under the surface. They are supported by Carole Bouquet and Jean Rochefort, who are fine, as per usual (although not outstanding enough, appropriately enough, to shine brighter than the main actresses). Unlike ‘Heaven’ (which featured Cate Blanchett and Giovani Ribis), there aren’t any stellar performances – but it would be hard to reproach anyone here.

Similarly, the film itself doesn’t feature the otherworldly, dreamy quality that ‘Heaven’ had. Perhaps that was intentional, in that ‘Hell’ should probably be darker and heavier than ‘Heaven’ – not just in tone, but also in style. Consequently, it’s a murkier film than ‘Heaven’ (as intense as it was!), but, while it didn’t provide any eye or ear-candy for the viewer’s enjoyment, it’s a pretty solid film – with nothing to add or detract from its emotional core. All in all, ‘L’enfer’ delivers a quite a punch.

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