With the Wind (Le vent tourne)
Ideas of radical ecology, self-sufficiency and toiling the land offer many narrative possibilities: a well-meaning ode to collective endeavour, a rustic tale of good-natured primitive living, a call to save the planet. In With the Wind Bettina Oberli subverts these expectations, showing the pain of a passion project, the frustrations of a bucolic landscape. In a world of Edenic bliss, ruptures court the surface.
Melanie Thierry and Pierre Deladonchamps play Pauline and Alex, a couple tending to an isolated farm in the Jura mountains. They grimace against weather and strife before deciding to install their own energy source. A stranger named Samuel (Nuno Lopes) delivers a wind turbine, bringing equipment, fresh sexual agency and – for what is a finely honed, high-minded life – shocking pragmatism.
Much tends to tone-deaf melodrama, unfortunate given the earnest explorations of environmental woe. Deladonchamps has an unforgiving role as the idealistic taskmaster, while Thierry is handed an oddly subdued scene with a just-born calf. It fares miserably and anti-climactically. The erotic state of exception consists of an ethereal hotel room, cloudlike and ludicrous.
There’s a sense this was always going to the wall. As an intervention into the perils of egoism, consumption and pollution, the film fares poorly. Perfunctory dialogue aches to be heard. The love triangle has soft edges. Intellectual profundity is a weak spot; emotional investment is oversold and underwritten. Darkness and rain augur doom. We’re anticipating the breakdown, for vicious modernity to triumph over noble ambitions, these still fed through folly and self-interest.
As Pauline and Alex’s romantic love deteriorates, the animals offer a point of unity. But the atmosphere is one of complete helplessness, of minor successes overwhelmed by heart-wrenching defeat. Vices of the city persist, poisoning the pastoral and prefacing a pessimistic end, one that produces a deathly ammoniac smell, both pungent and pointless.
With the Wind (Le vent tourne) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Locarno Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Locarno Film Festival website here.