Une Fleur à la Bouche (A Flower in the Mouth)
Anyone watching Une Fleur à la Bouche may wonder why, roughly a third of the way through its short 67 minutes, the film abruptly changes from an observational documentary set in a Dutch flower warehouse to a meditative, dialogue-heavy drama in a Parisian bar, where two unnamed men discuss life, loss and longing. The feature’s marketing describes it as “a radical reflection about time running out and what remains to be done”. Apparently director Éric Baudelaire’s definition of radical differs from his audience’s. That being said, his work is quite eloquent, albeit in an extremely understated way.
This semi-hybrid film has been loosely adapted from Italian dramatist Luigi Pirandello’s 1923 play, The Man with the Flower in His Mouth. Fun fact: the play is actually the first television drama ever produced in England, after the BBC filmed and broadcast an adaptation in 1930. The reason why Baudelaire decided to mesh a documentary and a contemplative two-hander drama may remain obscure, although the overall effect works on an almost impenetrable level. In any event, the leisurely glimpses inside the world’s largest flower market (in Aalsmeer, the Netherlands) are reasonably interesting, in an almost clinical way. Any romanticised notions of flower cultivation will be discarded after watching the indifferent efficiency of the workers as they fling boxes of blooms around, with robotic arms forcefully wrapping bunches in cellophane.
It feels vaguely inappropriate to attempt to relate the plot, largely because there isn’t really one. Anyone seeking a discernible, accessible narrative may be disappointed, but it’s clearly not that kind of film. The conversation between the two men alludes to incurable illnesses, and ranges from the exact to the abstract. Credited as The Man with a Flower, Oxmo Puccino gives his deliberately unnatural dialogue a beautiful, lyrical quality, perhaps due to his background in hip-hop. There may not be enough obvious substance for those unwilling to truly concentrate (it’s not for casual viewing, while still managing to be completely undemanding), but the rewards, however minor, are there.
Une fleur à la bouche (A Flower in the Mouth) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
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