Written by Bruno Dumont
Directed by Bruno Dumont
The work of Bruno Dumont is not for the faint of heart. A filmmaker who consistently pushes the boundaries of “morality,” he challenges the audience’s expectations of acceptable screen content. Even his style is alienating as he subverts modes of identification. His newest film, Outside Satan, is borne from the beautiful but grey coastal area of the Cote d’Opale, an area famous for it’s cliffs. The landscape served as the main inspiration for Dumont, who presents a disturbed spiritual journey centered on a nameless outsider who lives on the outskirts of a village-town and his friendship with a young woman who lives there.
Dumont’s realist aesthetic makes the actions of this outsider all the more frightening. His remorseless violence is framed by a desire to help a young woman who is apparently victimized by the town. He murders those who have preyed and abused her but with a cold and steady hand that suggests no empathy for human life. The ambiguity in his intentions makes the film’s morality all the more challenging, suggesting this outsider might be a force more powerful than the realist aesthetic would normally allow.
In this sense, Dumont evokes the work of Robert Bresson whose own work evokes spirituality through a minimalist
This powerful outsider is given the name of Satan, not the devil. He is a specific “creature,” a force who is human and divine – tragic and pitiful, but not to be trusted. When townspeople turn to him for comfort or help, we fear his power. He is not only capable of taking away life, but restoring it. We do not trust his divinity perhaps because it is so double-edged. Through his work, Bresson consistently questioned our relationship with an invisible God. A God who allowed suffering and tragedy to befall the most innocent and benevolent humans. In Outside Satan, Satan helps those who God has forgotten.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8th to the 18th. Tickets, schedules, and other information can be found on the festival’s website.