That Day

Reviewed By Greg Muskewitz
Posted 02/02/04 16:11:34

"Yet like so many others."
3 stars (Just Average)

Aside from it being Elsa Zylberstein’s “best/most important day of her life,” it also happens to be my birthday. And what it proves to be for her is God’s will to survive till the next day. (It only happens to be God’s will for me to survive until the next movie.)

She’s a bit crazed, though so are her family members in other oddly assorted ways, and a mass murderer is released with the instructions (under the false pretense that he is receiving them from God) to murder her, and anyone who gets in his way. The journey of the day, naturally filled with deaths of various methods, is a typical exercise from director Raoul Ruiz in lush ambiguities. His cinematic language tends to be of the obscurely humorous, but frustratingly incomplete, wading around the inscrutabilities of the mind like David Cronenberg. Of the handful of films I have seen by Ruiz, this is one of his more accessible, if perhaps only because there is some eventual clarity on the convoluted and soggy plot — which, by way of contrast, is modestly funny once it all adds up. For all of the shrouded talk of Salsox, lunches in the way of investigations, God’s will to survive, angels and devils, the method behind the madness is a huge inheritance that stands to be received by the crazed young woman, while her father is deeply in debt, with not a single loophole for him to receive the loot, and with the request to have her institutionalized already shot down. It’s all very minor, such a laboring exercise for so few laughs, and the psychiatric restraints place equally as shackling theatrical cuffs around it. Jean-François Balmer and Rufus fare well, while Michel Piccoli (with a thick layer of black eyeliner), Bernard Giraudeau, and Zylberstein all look a little exhausted and demented; one, likely the cause, from the other. With Jean-Luc Bideau.

[See it if you must.]

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