Ivul (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/07/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Unusual and unsettling, this is a frequently intriguing film with strong performances and distinctive direction, though the frustrating lack of focus in the story means that it lacks emotional impact.

What's it all about?
Directed by Andrew Kotting (Gallivant, This Filthy Earth), Ivul stars Jacob Auzanneau as Alex Ivul, a teenager who lives with his family in a chateau in present-day Switzerland. Alex has an extremely close relationship with his older sister Freya (Adelaide Leroux), but when her suggestive request for him to kiss her stomach gets out of hand, the pair are discovered by their father, Andrei (Jean-Luc Bideau), who angrily throws Alex out of the house.

In retaliation, Alex climbs up on to the roof of the chateau and vows never to touch the ground again, embracing a Tarzan-like existence amongst the trees that makes his mother, Marie (Aurelia Petit) sick with worry. Meanwhile, Freya embarks on a trip to Russia and Andrei continues to profess indifference, but things get a lot worse when he suffers a paralysing stroke that forces Freya to return to the family home.

The Good
Kotting directs with a distinctive style that includes curious old movie footage (e.g. of adults playing strange-looking children's games) and seemingly illustrative filmed inserts (ice floes, microbes, etc.) while making strong use of a suitably weird soundtrack that includes ambient noise, electronic music and odd sound effects. This lends the film a dream-like, fantastical element, though the family conflicts at the heart of the story (stubbornness, what happens when someone refuses to back down in an argument, etc.) are rooted firmly in reality.

The performances are excellent, particularly Bideau, who's something of a scene-stealer. There's also delightful support from Capucine and Manon Aubriot, as Alex and Freya's two younger sisters.

The Bad
The main problem is that the story lacks focus, seemingly losing interest in Alex almost as soon as he disappears up the wall. The remaining scenes seem fragmented and disjointed as a result and it's often hard to see the point of the story if not to explore the central conflict.

Worth seeing?
In short, Ivul is an unusual and unsettling film that's definitely worth seeing, even if it's ultimately too removed and disjointed to really work on an emotional level.

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Ivul (15)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 08:52

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