Dir. Olivier Beguin
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Holidaying in Romania, Alex (Yannick Rosset) and Livia (Jasna Kohoutova) get a vicious end to their break as Alex is hit by a car on a drunken night out. Learning on his return home that a life saving blood transfusion may have been contaminated, he slowly dwells on the fact that he may have returned as something else.
Dealing with his own sanity and relationship, Alex slowly unravels from the person he was to his new beginnings as a vampire leaving Livia to pick up the pieces and take the emotional strain of what he has become, along the way never doubting her loyalty and love for Alex.
Set amongst some of cinemas most beautiful scenery, it’s hard to explain the beauty of CHIMÈRES without showing its ugly nature. Drenched in blood and violent scenes, at its heart, it’s a love story and one that packs a punch. The portrayal of the couple between Rosset and Livia is so natural it makes most romance films look dull.
Olivier Beguin’s first full length feature is a miracle. Something so masterfully created from score to production values makes it hard to believe this is his first film and for those that have seen the likes of Beguin’s shorter films including the brilliantly humorous ‘Employee of the Month’ would not find a recognisable trait here. All humour is removed as we see the character building of two individuals who share the limelight as much as each other, this may appear to be Alex’s film but there is as much development with Livia that by the closing credits it’s hard to distinguish whose story we have watched.
If there is any criticism to have with CHIMÈRES is that the closing chapter feels like an alternative ending and perhaps could have worked to better effect as an accompanying short. Up until this point the conclusion is a 12 gauge blast in the face that will have your head in your hands with emotion. The revenge angle takes the movie into KILL BILL uber violent territory and while entertaining, loses what could have been one of the fucked up movies of the year but by including a healthy dose of fist fuelled violence somehow dulls the emotional effect.
Yet even as it is, this is no less powerful and simply adds another dimension to the movie that even further enhances the character development built on throughout the movie. Gisana Lorris’s fantastic score is testament to developing such a great vampire story that bases its affections not on the monster its lead becomes but of the love that keeps them human, all with a chunky dose of superb visual effects courtesy of David Scherer (simply watch ‘The Strange Colour of your Bodies Tears’).
A year that has brought us DRACULA and other vampires on the big screen and small, CHIMÈRES is the cream of the crop draining the blood from anything that has come before. A tough accolade with the likes of ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE and THE ECSTASY OF ISABEL MANN but there is so much emotion and deeper connection within Beguin’s film that just cannot be ignored. It will be to no surprise that director Olivier Beguin will be moving onto even bigger and better things after the standards he has set himself here and we’ll be the first to queue up and see.