Sentinel South: A War Movie…Without the War [critique]

Niels Schneider and Sofian Khammes impress as soldiers returning from the front trying to find a normal life in this debut feature by Mathieu Gérault

It was one of the nice surprises of the last Saint-Jean-de-Luz Festival. Its two main performers – Niels Schneider and Sofian Khammes – had also left with the dedicated laurels. This is a war film without the war. We follow a French soldier fresh from the front who is struggling to find his bearings in a civilian life that has everything of the battlefield (decimated place, icy outskirts, traffic…) He finds brothers in arms involved in a dirty story of opium which could well find its roots within the French army. With this first feature film, Mathieu Gérault plays on the abolition of borders, both territorial and mental, and projects a fallow world of implacable darkness. Here expressionism and naturalism are two sides of the same coin and the two performers seem to project their inner torments onto the frame around them. Everything vibrates in tune with these flayed-alive beings who fight as best they can. From then on, the boundaries between the intimate and the violence from outside are blurred. Besides its main duo, the presence of India Hair and Denis Lavant adds extra soul to this intense thriller.

By Mathieu Gerault. With: Niels Schneider, Sofian Khammes, India Hair… Duration: 1H36. Released April 27, 2022

Leave a Reply