Punk filmmaker F.J. Ossang, whose previous titles include Docteur Chance, Dharma Guns and the intriguingly titled Treasure of Bitch Islands, returns to the silver screen with 9 Fingers, an impressionistic and existential noir thriller that may look great, but unfortunately that’s about it.
On the run from the police, Magloire (Paul Hamy) gets caught up with a gang of criminals led by the conspicuously-named Kurtz (Damien Bonnard) on an endless journey to Nowhereland. The reference to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness isn’t made explicit enough to provide any sort of statement, making it hard to say exactly what this film is really about.
Ossang’s artistic choices are mystifying. More a loose association of images than a film in its own right, Ossang has taken arthouse to the extreme. Shot in black-and-white 35mm, ocean waves appear thick and oily, skin plastic and unreal; however, that’s pretty much the extent of it – trying as hard as it may, this film’s philosophical probing doesn’t reach any deeper than its glossy surface.
While the black-and-white fever-dream aesthetic really worked for Ciro Guerra’s near-faultless Embrace of the Serpent, 9 Fingers feels far less mature despite its director being relatively well-established. The editing is distracting and, at moments, inconsistent with the plot. 9 Fingers is divided into acts, which are then split up by some fairly gratuitous title cards.
Who is this film for? Why was it made? What actually happened? It’s easily dislikeable, but also entertaining for that reason. RIP le cinéma.
A spectacular misfire that left its press screening at LFF half-deserted, but is kind of enjoyable at the same time. Show it to your arch nemesis and revel in their disgust as they fail to digest these half-baked ideas.
CAST: Damien Bonnard, Diogo Dória, Elvire
DIRECTOR: F.J. Ossang
WRITER: F.J. Ossang
SYNOPSIS: A man on the run finds himself reluctantly in cahoots with a gang planning a heist. He then joins them on a sea voyage to ‘Nowhereland’..