[Review] In the Mist: Not just a smokescreen

The French (or French-speaking) fantasy film is so rare that each new proposal is intriguing. Despite a tone that is sometimes hesitant, Dans la haze manages to do well.

The year 2018 shows the good health of French genre cinema, as evidenced by the good critical and public feedback from Revenge and Ghostland at the last Gerardmer festival. Although the film by Quebecois Daniel Roby was not screened there, it nevertheless had its place in the selection. If his poster worthy of a blockbuster does not necessarily pay tribute to him, it has the merit of challenging. Just like its synopsis, deliberately evasive.

Mathieu (Romain Duris) and Anna (Olga Kurylenko) are separated but often see each other to take care of their daughter, Sarah (Fantine Harduin), who lives in a glass bubble fitted out due to an illness preventing her from going out. outdoors. After a slight earthquake, a deadly mist invades Paris. Entrenched in the heights of their Haussmann apartment, the couple will have to leave the young girl. But the back-up battery in its habitat will not last long.

Aware of the means at his disposal, Daniel Roby does not insist more than that on the depiction of the disaster which serves as a disruptive element to his story. Despite everything, he gives us a rather successful scene, in the streets of a panic-stricken capital. But it is in the Haussmannian building (reconstructed for the occasion) that the facts will partly take place.

The Quebecois uses different dystopian elements to set the narrative markers of his scenario. Apart from some futuristic computer equipment, only the enormous interior of the young Sarah really shows on the screen, and tries to muddy the waters when at the time filmed.

While the smoke rises in the floors, it is also the latter which induces the separation of parents and child. The border that separates moments of tension and calm is therefore often too visible. Thus, one can be surprised that this strange smoke stops before the last floor of the building, opening the story on the roofs of Paris.

Despite this very pronounced script segmentation, Roby trusts his actors to inject gravity into the subject. The couple is also well supported by the presence of Michel Robin and Anna Gaylor, convincing as benevolent retirees. Duris delivers an athletic performance that even tends to eclipse that of his partner. The two actors thus manage to maintain the sense of urgency inherent in this type of production.

The second part of the film gently looks at the post-apo atmospheres we have been drinking in recent years, but remains pleasant. We do not avoid a few inconsistencies, like a simple stray dog ​​who seems to represent the height of danger in the midst of chaos, but the whole never falls into the big puppet to justify any special effect.

This relative modesty is found in the dialogues which have the good taste not to sink into pathos despite a tragic situation. The choices are made despite a classic happy ending, which has the effect of retaining the more rational and European aspect of the film.

The willfully mysterious treatment that surrounds the haze can divide. Gaps scattered here and there seem to want to put us on the path without however finding an explanation thereafter. The obvious connection with The Mist does not have any place to be, the work never tending towards mysticism.

Without revealing too much, Roby’s finale has an interesting reflexive (even poetic) potential, but comes too abruptly. We will retain the freshness and the general ambition of his approach rather than its substantive marrow.