Sun-gilded fields of long grass, calm waters and fleeting shots of summer rain, Grand Central combines real cinematic beauty and an authentic story about love with the sour and electric edge of adultery.
Taking place in a French nuclear plant, the setting offers an interesting insight to the world of labour with extremely high health stakes. Surreal sci-fi-style workrooms are juxtaposed with nostalgically shot trailer park and dive bar personal lives. With an emotionally charged plot, director Rebecca Zlotowski has not made a film commenting on the conditions of nuclear plant employees any more than she has about the universal flaws of humans and their relationships. The soundtrack, written by ROB, keys into the varied and often visceral emotional tensions between the personalities echoing the grind of the professional pressure and fear of life threatening levels of nuclear exposure.
Gary (Tahar Rahim) is a young, fearless but under-qualified loner who finds himself being swept into a community of workers at the plant. He begins to learn how to function as part of the protective pack of boyish men where loyalty is demanded. But his allegiances and happy-go-lucky attitude slip as he gets lost in love for the first time. Lea Seydoux is hypnotic as Karole, bringing an undercurrent of darkness to a fresh-faced and subtly seductive young woman torn between becoming the somewhat owned wife of Toni (Denis Menochet) or Gary’s lover. Theirs is an idyllic sparkle of a love affair with bitter repercussions: Rahim somehow expresses a refreshing kind of bright yet soft masculinity in Gary,and the vulnerability of a men and women in love is achingly present in the performances of the central characters.
There is a theme of closeness that runs through the film both literally and poetically. In scenes of romance and the colder nuclear environment, there is proximity between the camera, actor and audience. Zlotowski has forged an intimacy between the screen and the spectator; like breath on your skin there is warmth and thickness in its air that makes it a compelling piece. It will resonate with anyone who has ever felt romantic longing.
Grand Central is released nationwide on 18th July 2014.
Watch the trailer for Grand Central here: