I Am Sorry (Je Suis Desole)

The last moments of a condemned man to death, and his path to redemption.

Genre: Drama

Length: 03:19

Free To View

3 out of 5 stars

Producer/s : Karol Olejnik, Sebastien Chamaillard

Director/s : Kamil Olejnik, 

Writer/s : Kamil Olejnik, 

Actor/s : Karol Olejnik, Marco Tchicot

 

Je regrette beaucoup

It may be stereotyping the French, but slow camerawork and poetic internal monologue seems very Gallic. If you like that kind of stuff, a tortured man intoning “insidious venom that burns my life” will be deeply moving and revealing. If you don’t, your antennae for pseudo-artistic pretentiousness may be activated.

The condemned man finishes his letter: “Je suis desole” – I am sorry. And the guards arrive with shackles. One takes the letter, to give to the man’s children (surely that’s the priest’s job? Perhaps the church let the prisoner down.)

There is a well crafted, bleak sense of place. The prison is grimly metallic, and that awful chair, its straps, and primitive electricals, are like a torture chamber. But here we go with more voiceover about “sad carcasses, bitter remorse” and the like (made worse by subtitles, admittedly). This actually blocks the empathy we want to feel, which we’d get if left to concentrate on his face and body alone. We might not all come to the same understanding, but we would own our empathy. As it is, the guard’s disgust comes across more clearly than the prisoner’s desolation.

The film leaps to life with a coup de cinema right at the end. It would be wrong to reveal this, but the insight and implications of those final 6 seconds are profound and lingering. There’s an echo of Kieslowski’s Short Film About Death here, elevating the film to a level it had been trying way too hard to achieve over the preceding three minutes.

At least it gets somewhere, and at least it’s short. A true Gaul would have spread the interior monologue out over 15 tortured minutes, so let us say merci for small mercies.

[No screener available at this time.]

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