FORET NOIRE *** Canada 2018 Dir: Philippe David Gagne, Jean Marc E. Roy. 20 mins
Lushly shot by Olivier Gossot and afforded a lush, evocative orchestral score by Amaury Chabauty, this is a modern spin on old-fashioned drawing room mysteries, shot in Quebec but set in France. For those who were too bored or too horny to listen in French at school, the title translates as “Black Forest”, which incidentally remains King of the Gateaux World.
Set in Jura, Eastern France, it pivots around a live reenactment of the recent murder of a French Canadian. Standing accused are three Canadian women, reunited in a peculiar trial-cum-staging of the crime, complete with prosecutor, judge, medical examiner and key witnesses. What unfolds is a well-acted, great-looking hybrid of farce and drama, foreshadowing to some degree Rian Johnson’s brilliant KNIVES OUT (2019), with added bits of business involving mannequins and birthday cakes. It’s spirited and engaging, though the difficult combination of black humour and (latterly) pathos doesn’t quite come off, despite the wilfully absurd climax involving the disposal of a difficult “corpse”.
Review by Steven West