Tuesday, January 14, 2014

812. S'en fout la mort/No Fear, No Die (1990)

Running Time: 97 minutes
Directed By: Claire Denis
Written By: Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
Main Cast: Isaach De Bankole, Alex Descas, Solveig Dommartin, Christopher Buchholz, Jean-Claude Brialy


Hey, I'm back! Let's not make a big deal out of it though, okay? I now only have twenty-three films to watch before this 100 will be in the history books and I can make yet another TOP 20 list, adding to my already massive and fantastic (if I do say so myself) 1,000 list. Anyway, on to the business at hand - "No Fear, No Die".

The film starts out by focusing on Dah (De Bankole), arriving in France to begin a business deal with seedy nightclub owner Ardennes (Brialy). The two plan to book cockfights in the basement of one of Ardennes properties and require the assistance of Dah's brother, Jocelyn (Descas), a rooster tycoon, who knows just how to train the birds for fighting. Once the everything is established for us, the film goes into kind of a documentary mode, as Dah narrates and details everything that goes into Jocelyn's training of the birds, as the two share a cramped, little basement apartment with about a dozen, crowing birds. Then the fights get underway (and we're assured in the credits that no animals were harmed in the process) and from there, Denis gets around to fleshing out the character development a little bit, as Jocelyn turns to the bottle, as tensions rise between him, Ardennes and Ardennes son, Michel (Buchholz). In the middle of it all is the beautiful Alex (Dommartin) wife to Ardennes and coveted by both Michel and Jocelyn (Jocelyn even goes so far as to name one of his bird's after her).

Don't expect a long review here, because 1) despite having done a few SINS OF OMISSION reviews, this is my first review back and 2) there's really not a lot to talk about with this one. I didn't mind this one, however it was a little on the slow side. I liked all of the performances and even liked the characters to an extent, but I never fully got attached to them because they just weren't pronounced enough. The film was quiet and it's not that quiet is a bad thing, but this film was too quiet and needed a louder, booming voice to give it that extra boost. I watched it just fine, time didn't drag at all and I was even interested in what the outcomes of the characters would be, but it just seemed to lack direction. The film excelled in that it provided a damp, drizzly, somber mood, one that appealed to me and even had the music to accompany it - I'm talking about the jazz score that showed up somewhere at about the halfway mark.

Another thing I'd criticize is the fact that things just seemed to change way too abruptly. One minute Jocelyn is fine, helping Dah and Ardennes run a successful cockfighting venture and the next minute he's a boozer, who wants out. Did I totally miss something or was there really no explanation for Jocelyn's onset boozing? I realize he was obsessed with Alex, was that the reasoning behind it all? I'm not confused so much as I think it all ties back into the film not being pronounced enough and having too light a voice to make any sort of an impact. It COULD grow on me with time, but I doubt it.

RATING: 6/10  Short, sweet and to the point. Good enough? I hope so. Anyway, expect a slow start as I get back on the horse, but I think we'll have this season pounded out in no time.


January 14, 2014  10:40am


  1. Sorry, a complete miss with me.
    One I probably SHOULD have liked.. a sort of French Mike Leigh 'life sucks for the poor and disposed-, liberal leaning film.. but I just saw rather unpleasant low life types i had no sympathy for.
    One to 'get through' rather than enjoy.

    1. Glad we agree, although I didn't hate it, yet I can't say I enjoyed it either.


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