Adapted from Julio Cortazar's story "Graffiti," "Furia" marked the feature film debut of Alexandre Aja - made before he gained broader attention for his frightening 2003 splatter flick, "Haute Tension."
Filmed when Aja was just 20 years old, "Furia" is an ambitious production, benefiting from bleak & dusty Moroccan locations, and beautiful widescreen cinematography by veteran Gerry Fisher. Sadly, the DVD's a mediocre NTSC conversion from a PAL master; the film speed is poorly compensated for NTSC, colours are rather weak, sharpness is seriously lacking in panoramic shots, and the image seems to have been cropped at the sides from a much broader 2.35:1 ratio. Large, non-removable English subtitles also divert attention from the actual film.
While the DVD doesn't include the film's original Dolby Digital mix, the French stereo reduction is sufficiently aggressive, with a vibrant score by Queen guitarist Brian May, featuring a blend of modest orchestra, obligatory wailing guitar (denoting Epic Tragedy), and several delicate woodwind passages for the film's more tender scenes.
It's a surprisingly well-crafted film, focusing on the developing love story between rebellious youth Stanislas Merhar (lead in the deadly dull "Franck Spadone") and waifish Marion Cotillard (from the original three "Taxi" films). The mood transitions from youthful courting to heavy passion take advantage of the actor's lithe physiques, and while Merhar's crusading battle and final heroic stand are melodramatic and naïve, the impressionistic,
Orwellian sadism in the film's final third remain quite powerful. As in "Haute Tension," Aja's quite comfortable in handling scenes of physical and emotional violation (and if there was an official Michael Reeves Award for Sublime Bleakness in Film, Aja would respctfully earn it).
© 2005 Mark R. Hasan
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