Film Review: 9 Fingers (9 Doigts)

F.J. Ossang’s 9 Fingers (9 Doigts) is a puzzling and sometimes nervy ride. The film is great when it hits the mark. 

A young man starts running with no luggage and no where to go until he inherits a fortune. Subsequently he is chased by a criminal gang and becomes their hostage, and something more…

With 9 Fingers, writer-director F.J. Ossang combines genres to create something rather striking. The film is at once a mystery, a crime thriller, and a sci-fi tale. Ossang blends these genres in a way that keeps viewers on their toes. There is a mystery at the centre, which becomes a crime thriller, before entering the realms of science fiction.  

Protagonist Magloire is an interesting character in that he goes with the flow of events, sometimes inhabiting a spectator-like space. The film is separated into acts. The latter portion is where the tension is most prevalent. There is increasingly paranoia, which exploits the nature of the setting. This is very effective in conveying the mindset of the characters. 

The band of characters work well to illustrate the film’s varying themes. Some provide humour which is both dark and necessary. Others are concerned with the mission, whilst Magloire displays a laconic freedom to go with the prevailing train of influence. It is the interactions between this group that generates the paranoia; they are stuck in a confined space in which allows fears to grow. 

Filmed in black and white and with certain themes prevalent, 9 Fingers feels like it could have been made decades ago. Certain elements such as the modern cars, however, draw viewers out of this. The lighting does not make effective use of the black and white format, whilst the composition is not really notable. Performances in the film are decent, particularly Pascal Greggory and Paul Hamy.

9 Fingers is suitably inventive, but lacks the execution to make it a truly memorable film. 

9 Fingers (9 Doigts) is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival on October 2017.

BFI London Film Festival 2017 Launch

It’s that time of year again. Today saw the launch of the BFI London Film Festival 2017. The festival this year sees 242 feature films being screened, which includes 28 world premieres. Here are some picks to look out for at the London Film Festival 2017…

Headline Galas

The opening and closing galas previously announced; closing gala Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri in particular looks great. Directed by Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths), the film stars Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson. Other Headline Gala highlights include Battle of the Sexes (starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell), Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. Another highlight is The Killing of a Sacred Deer, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster). The film stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Barry Keoghan, and is about a doctor who introduces his family to a fatherless young man he has befriended.

Strand Galas and Special Presentations

This year sees the return of the Embankment Garden Cinema and its series of Strand Galas.   There are a number of exciting screenings, including Redoubtable (Le Redoutable). Directed by Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) the film is a biopic of Jean-Luc Godard and stars Louis Garrel, Stacy Martin, and Bérénice Bejo. Also showing is Wonderstruck, based on the novel of the same name. Directed by Todd Haynes (Carol), the film stars Julianne Moore. Among the Special Presentations are Sally Potter’s The Party and the first two episodes of David Fincher’s upcoming Netflix series Mindhunter.

Official Competition

Amongst the Official Competition at London Film Festival 2017 are The Breadwinner (an animated film about a young girl in Taliban-controlled Kabul), and Thoroughbred, which stars Anya Taylor-Joy. The First Feature Competition includes Beast, which is about a young woman who falls for a police suspect. Also in this category is I Am Not A Witch, about a young girl in a Zambian village who is accused of being a witch. The Documentary Competition includes Jane, a film about primatologist Jane Goodall.

Strands

A highlight of this year’s Love strand is How to Talk to Girls at Parties, based on the Neil Gaiman short story. The film stars Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning. The Debate strand features The Venerable W., a documentary about a Buddhist monk espousing anti-Muslim rhetoric. Laugh includes Brigsby Bear, a comedy about a man who tries to remake a children’s show he was obsessed with. A highlight of the Dare category is 9 Fingers, directed by FJ Ossang. The Thrill section includes the classic noir Mildred Pierce, whilst Harry Dean Stanton and David Lynch star in Lucky as part of the Journey strand.

The Cult strand includes Paco Plaza’s horror Veronica, and Create features documentary G Funk, about Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Nate Dogg. The Family strand includes fairy tale compendium Ivan Tsarevitch and the Changing Princess. Experimenta features documentary Tonsler Park, a timely film about polling stations in Charlottesville during last year’s US election.

The full London Film Festival 2017 programme can be viewed here. The BFI London Film Festival runs from 4th-15th October 2017.