31
Oct 03

What’s The Time Mr Wolf

Do You SeePost a comment • 369 views

What’s The Time Mr Wolf was one of my favourite playground games as a youth. A creeping up on the bad guy game, there was a delicious moment, when whoever was playing the wolf would shout “Dinnertime” and the dynamic changed from sneaky to out and out chase. I mention it because in Michael Haneke’s Time Of The Wolf there is are two similar moments. One happens thirty seconds into the film, the other about two thirds in.

The intro to this film is so damn good that it does not really leave the rest of the film anywhere to go. The plot is pretty much a French version of Survivors. There has been an unnamed catastrophe and now supplies are running low. Unlike the plucky Survivors band, the French appear to be a much more vicious bunch, their communes are full of moaners, religious fanatics and cripples. The problem with post-apocalyptic dramas is that there is nowhere for them to go. The set up is grand, but when the problem to be solved is the reinstatement of civilization, there is too much to do in a two hour film.

This is possibly why Hanake, after getting to the bottom of small society dynamics suddenly changes everything by bringing in a much larger settlement. It gives the film something to do but seems to unsettle it. It certainly allows for more conflict, but stretches some of the narrative. He relies on a withdrawal to a tiny personal ending to try and cap it off, without really making any conclusions. The only conclusion I made, except for being grimly entertained, was yet another reminder at how good Isabelle Huppert is. Here, looking like Helen Mirren, she is strong when she needs to be, whilst never hiding the broken woman in her eyes. Time Of The Wolf is her film, and it is a little bit disappointing that she does not get to end it and that the influx of characters removes her slightly from the fore. But probably the best French film I’ve seen this year.

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