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Legacy Review

Jean-Pierre’s Mouth (1996)

Mercifully short and non-exploitative, Lucile Hadžihalilović‘s debut is claustrophobic and tense and well-crafted. The film’s sense of dread never boils over into outright terror, but it’s nonetheless a fairly haunting little piece.

Following her mother’s attempted suicide, preteen Mimi moves in with her aloof Aunt Solange. Solange’s new boyfriend, Jean-Pierre, appears on the scene with a shocking flash of violence, and hovers uncomfortably close to Mimi whenever he visits.

There’s one horribly tense scene as the film circles around the inevitable confrontation of the set-up, but the movie spares Mimi and the viewers from the worst cruelties.

The movie’s central theme is a cycle of trauma, both inherited and inflicted by a cruel world. It also depicts lost and stolen childhood and a world always on the verge of nastiness. Yet its atmosphere isn’t quite as thick as I hoped, in spite of strong visual control.

It’s odd to call something so bleak a “trifle” but its small focus and scenario ultimately make it a bit forgettable in spite of its solid craft.

Is It Good?

Nearly Good (4/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.


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