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Abrahadabra

at Belmont Filmhouse

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Experiment with tablet footage challenges narrative.

Image of Abrahadabra

Yannik Ruault/ France UK Netherlands/ 2017/ 72 mins

Part of French Film Festival 2017

Ambition and vision are fundamental to creativity. Striding forward can inevitably lead to the occasional trip or fall. Abrahadabra, from director Yannik Ruault, has bold ambitions but isn’t able to fully realise everything it sets out to do. Ruault is here at the Belmont Filmhouse tonight and it is always a privilege to hear an artist both introduce their work and answer questions. He describes his intention to illustrate how filming with a tablet changes the style of narration and his own feeling that there is an opposition in point of view between a traditional film camera and the tablet. Jane, her father and grandfather all film footage in their own distinctive styles, with Jane in particular much freer and more likely to interrupt her own filming. Whether these differences are overt enough for the general viewer to pick up on is open to question.

Unfortunately, on this occasion, storytelling been sacrificed for this stylistic emphasis. The relationships are clear but it’s difficult to care for any of them, as their idyllic surroundings and relaxed lifestyle don’t indicate any struggle whatsoever. It’s not enough for an audience to be told by one character that another doesn’t eat or sleep; we need more. Some atmosphere does begin to build with some shots (for example, in the dark stables where horses take on an uncanny bulk), but they are over all too quickly. More worryingly, the poor quality of the subtitles is distracting and undermines the overall impact of the film, whatever that may be.

From the blurb in the brochure, you would be justified in thinking this film was an investigation of grief and bereavement after a child loses their father. Abrahadabra is certainly about a child, but its choice of gaze is unexpected. Ruault is clear about his intentions for the film (available here) but perhaps, if time and budget had allowed the film a final polish, they would have been easier to grasp and appreciated for their sincerity.


Tom is a lifelong fan of theatre and film. Having helped out on a couple of short films he is aware of how much work is involved to produce even 10 minutes of action. His aim? To honestly encourage an audience for things done well. Denied a career in ballet by weak ankles, Jan now writes a little poetry and one day may write a play.

Comments

One Response to Abrahadabra

  1. Yannik Ruault says:

    Sir, Miss,

    Your article on my first feature film ABRAHADABRA is, I think, very interesting because it warns the viewer of the disappointment he will feel (as you have experienced it seems to me) not to see in this film the sadness, the cries, the tears, of the young Jane after the tragic death of her father. You reproach that these things are said and not shown, “It is not enough”.

    If I find your opinion very interesting it is because it testifies to the current demand, the very requirement, of certain people, to see in the cinema the blood, the sex and the tears (at least one of the three), peoples who expected the Cinema like an exposure of feelings. For my part I am a strong fighter for a cinema of modesty, prudish, that refuses all this. Yes, these things are said and not shown and a more large budget would not have changed anything, contrary to what you write.

    About the technical point of English subtitles which you are insist, I confirm that this subtitles are not always faithful to the dialogues. Some replies were created especially in english subtitles and character name was changed (Papifou became Granda-di-dou). These freedoms were taken to try to stay as faithful as possible not to the words but to the feelings by the dialogues. Although these English translations were written by fluent or native English, they are probably not perfect and can be improved. But whatever their version, it will never go into the registry you expected.

    Yours,
    Yannik Ruault
    Author Director.

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