Director: Pieter Van Hees
Screenplay: Christophe Dirickx, Dimitri Karakatsanis, Pieter Van Hees
Cast: Eline Kuppens, Matthias Schoenaerts, Sien Eggers, Marilou Mermans
Producers: Bert Hamelinck, Kato Maes, Frank Van Passel
Distributor: Les Films Séville / E1
2007 | 18 min
French language, English subtitles
Nothing’s more frustrating for a young athlete than being sidelined. For Marie, it’s an utter disaster. Chronically exhausted following an excessively harsh training program, she’s been forbidden by her doctor to prepare for an important competition. Convinced that the doctor’s orders are the death knell of her athletic career, she drifts between her mother’s business and the gym, where she meets Bob, a dashing young gent she falls head over heels for. Finding him to be her sole source of comfort, she jumps at Bob’s invitation to move in with him. Marie would be in seventh heaven if it weren’t for the unseemly neighbours in Bob’s apartment building. For cryptic reasons, they seem to regard her as unwelcome, even an intruder. Something’s just not right in the otherwise unremarkable building. The woman who’d previously inhabited the young couple’s apartment disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The woman’s boyfriend has been conducting his own investigation, thoroughly convinced that witchcraft is at the root of the matter. Marie’s not the type to buy such absurd theories—until the evidence begins to seems irrefutable.
Those with a fondness for mature fantasy cinema will want to remember the name Pieter Van Hees, whose short BLACK XXX-MAS won an Audience Award at Fantasia back in the day. With LEFT BANK, a debut feature that’s already turned heads at several film fests, Van Hees revisits the familiar premises of Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE TENANT but brings his own innovative variation to the themes, a context of realism allowing him to conjure an atmosphere of the familiar that gradually slides into a realm of black magic that comes off as unsettlingly authentic. Van Hees also proves himself capable at crafting engaging, psychologically complex characters, further fleshed out by a top-notch cast. Making her big-screen debut, the lovely Eline Kuppens projects tremendous energy and displays a bold streak in the erotic scenes so raw and graphic they recall Andrea Arnold’s RED ROAD, an English film that also comes to mind when noticing the sumptuous, meditative cinematography of LEFT BANK. If you enjoy exciting new discoveries in cinema, you won’t want to miss this startling debut bow from a talent to watch.