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THE SOUND AND THE FURY

France, 1987 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Jean-Claude Brisseau

Life ... is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying I nothing' - William Faulkner

Bruno is fourteen, small in stature and innocent. Having just moved into the neighbourhood, he makes friends with Jean-Roger, a violent 15-year-old who terrorises his (and Bruno's) schoolteachers, and aspires to be a member of the older teen-gangs who roam the streets and car parks of the rundown high-rise housing estate on the outskirts of Paris where the story takes place.

As played by Francois Negret (last seen in Au Revoir Les Enfants), Jean-Roger becomes the centre of this powerful indictment of a society torn from any familial or inter-social links, trapped in the concrete wastelands of Aubervilliers.

Like his brutish father, who he adores, Jean-Roger has resigned himself to his fate within this world of petty crime. When even the glimmer of opportunity arises for himself or anyone around him (for example: his brother's middle-class aspirations; the schoolteacher's interest in Bruno) Jean-Roger acts violently to destroy them. Only after a tragic climax in the film's final scenes (with its allusions to Macbeth), do we sense that hope may exist for the sad figure of Jean-Roger.

Jean-Claude Brisseau's film shows considerable danng in mixing (sometimes disconcertingly) passages of violent, naturalistic drama suddenly punctuated by moments of tenderness and fantasy. That he can achieve this so successfully (in only his third feature) is measure of the considerable skills of Brisseau, a former literature teacher at a school in the same area as the film's setting. A contemporary hard-hitting drama such as this goes against the grain of most current French cinema; Sound and Fury is one of the most powerful French films of the decade .

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