Denis Johnson’s novel on an American woman blocked in Central America during the 1984 Nicaraguan Revolution obtained a contemporary update in this romantic thriller, with Benny Safdie.
The often brilliant Claire Denis was historically undervalued by the Cannes Film Festival, which means that the official competition has cut only now for the second time after its first appearance with its first feature film, Chocolat de 1988. It is therefore sad To note that the rare reappearance of the French author in the main selection is with one of his least interesting films, stars at noon, a romantic thriller in English and Spanish – more intention than execution. Directed by non -persuasive performances of chemistry deficient in chemistry leads Margaret Qualley and Joe Alwyn, it is a film that is almost perverse in a texture or a dramatic momentum.
Since it takes place in Nicaragua under an oppressive government, with streets lined with armed military guards and protest panels calling for “stopping the abuse of power”, it is quite a success that the film is Find there, inert. This may be due in part to the decision to update Denis Johnson’s novel in 1986 of his original framework during the Sandinianist rule in 1984. This change of time, in the script by the director, Léa Mysius and Andrew Litvack, consists Mainly add mobile phones, internet and masks to recognize the COVVI-19 pandemic. In one way or another, the stakes simply do not feel real or urgent.
Perhaps because the writers could not reinvent history to its bones, the stars at noon never feels in a contemporary credible way, demonstrating more in common with the thrillers of the 80s on the foreign nationals taken In political intrigue, as in fire or the year of living dangerously. It would be a good thing if it packed heat or tension.
These two films were centered on English -speaking journalists entering hot water while trying to report on the turmoil of corrupt regimes. Denis’ protagonist, Trish Johnson (Qualley), has questionable press references, but although she tried to sell stories about political kidnappings and electoral interference, her editor of the American magazine (John C. Reilly In a Skype cameo) told him to stop calling. “You are not a journalist,” he informs him with a blunt purpose.
While trying to find a way to get out of the country without plane ticket, Trish kills time to lose rum and turn tricks, preferably for American dollars. She has curry the favor by sleeping with a police subliter (Nick Romano), who confiscated her passport and has now revoked her press card; And by making fun of the vice-minister of tourism (Stephan Proaño), whose desire to help has reached its limit.
Trish is an alcoholic drifter whose cynicism about the Nicaraguan government is amply justified, but the scenario never gives meaning to what has brought it to the country and kept it there long enough to become so bogged down.
She finds a possible escape road to Daniel Dehaven (Alwyn), a married Englishman who claims to be in Nicaragua Consulting for an oil company investing there. Trish sleeps with him for $ 50, which pushes him to become ruminative: “I often commit adultery. I really miss anyone. I feel like I am in danger of throwing my life. “A dialogue like this echoes the poetry cut off from the fiery prose the author Johnson, but it tends to seem bogus coming out of the mouths of these actors.
Before its high -end housing at the Intercontinental and its more modest excavations in a diving hotel, Trish and Daniel Screw, Swig Cervezas and become mutually poisoned. The paneled appearances on the contrary, Trish is sophisticated enough to identify the supposed business partner of Daniel (Danny Ramirez) as an application of the Costa Rican shaded law, which means that the Briton is perhaps not this that it seems.
While threats are starting to get closer to them, they jump the city in a stolen car and try to cross the border with Costa Rica, but an American (Benny Safdie, malfasted and wasted) whose detailed knowledge of the two mark like the CIA, enter the path of their escape plan.
After Denis put his distinctive cachet on comedy and romantic drama, respectively, in Leave the sun and both sides of the blade, it seemed potentially intriguing to find the director exploring the distant material of France, as it did so memorable in African way- define films as the stone masterpiece of 1999, beautiful work. But Denis never really gets a good understanding of his story here – whether in terms of the background of political problems or his love story built on a basis of tenuous confidence, the couple’s isolation becoming a survival strategy . The pandemic mask requirement seems to be intended to improve the meaning of the characters by hiding from various degrees, although this would require to start them a little.
The romance is not helped by the shallow characterizations of Qualley, which, at various times, seems to announce the dreaded return of the dreamy daughter of maniac elf, but whose harshness and know-how appear as a pose; And Alwyn, which is above all an empty white linen suit, and not the one you can buy a hot car. The male affair was originally intended to be Robert Pattinson, who worked with Denis on his first film in English, The Sci-Fi Mystery High Life, but he was busy on Tentt and The Batman. Taron Egerton was then thrown but abandoned at the start of production for personal reasons.
The film was shot in Panama City and the vicinity of the lush jungle, under a blinding sun and torrential rains, and even if it looks good, with a sense of the appropriate place and a lot of intimacy cleverly draped in Sex scenes, it does not correspond to the expressive style of the best work of the director of photography Eric Gautier. Then there is the partition of the group of the English-List Tindersticks, longtime collaborators of Denis whose loose jazz riffs seem antithetical to the construction of suspense. There is almost always something interesting in even Denis’ defective films, but this disturbed travel story feels a little with every paved step.