Magazine article Screen International

'To the Ends of the World': Cannes Review

Magazine article Screen International

'To the Ends of the World': Cannes Review

Article excerpt

Gaspard Ulliel, Gerard Depardieu are stand-outs in this haunting story of revenge in Indochina

To The Ends Of The World

Dir: Guillaume Nicloux. France. 2017. 103mins

Love, longing, cruelty, revenge, grief, and mercy are exquisitely evoked in To The Ends of the World (Les Confins du monde) a ravishingly-shot depiction of the bottomless insanity of war, set in Indochina in 1945. The first 3 minutes establish the tone - a perfect balance between stunned contemplation and barely imaginable atrocity. The expression “couldn’t be better” applies to Gaspard Ulliel’s portrayal of conflicted French soldier Robert Tassen as it does to Gerard Depardieu’s turn as a French writer in exile.

This emotionally haunting tale joins the ranks of the very best cinematic renderings of the toll war takes on all sides

Shot on 35mm anamorphic Scope, in large part in the jungle or among lush hills, Guillaume Nicloux’s (Valley of Love) powerfully draining film is stunning to look at and hard to shake. The political foundations of the harsh time depicted (colonial rule, Japanese designs on the territory, the independence movement led by Ho Chi Minh) are complex, but one needn’t be an historian to grasp various characters’ motivations. These range from patriotic duty to soul-ravaging indoctrination and from thwarted romance to ravenous hunger.

Having survived the massacre by the Japanese against the French that left 7,000 dead in early March of 1945, lanky and taciturn Robert Tassen (Ulliel) is nursed back to health in wild terrain where beheadings and dismembering of enemies are not uncommon. He stumbles back to town and identifies himself as a soldier wishing to join a regiment and continue to serve France. …

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