Written and directed by Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury, Livid (or Livide) is Bustillo and Maury’s second collaborative effort. Their first was the 2007 film Inside which received rave reviews when it opened.
Unfortunately Livid has not been as well received. Although I’m at a loss as to why the film was viewed so negatively by the same folks who adored their first film. I can only put it down to the lads having a hard time living up to their amazing first feature.
The beginning of the film sees Lucie being trained by Mrs Wilson (Catherine Jacob) and we meet a few of her “new” clients. Mrs Wilson appears to be quite jaded at this point in her career as a home carer and Lucie shows a lot of compassion for her potential new charges.
The last lady they visit is Mrs Deborah Jessel (Marie-Claude Pietragalla) who is in a coma. She is incredibly old and is only being kept alive by a machine and blood transfusions. Mrs Wilson tells Lucie that the old woman has a treasure hidden somewhere in the crumbling mansion that is her home. Wilson also tells Lucie that she has looked for the treasure in vain for years.
After work Lucie meets her boyfriend William (Félix Moati) at the docks as he and his father come in to unload their catch for the day. William is a fisherman like his father, but he wants a lot more from life for less effort. He is tired of working hard for so little recompense.
Over drinks at a Bistro run by Will’s mother, Lucie recounts her first day as a carer. When Will tells her it sounds boring, she tells him of Mrs Jessel and her hidden treasure.Will becomes quite excited and tries to talk her into breaking into the mansion and stealing the treasure.
Lucie states firmly that it is out of the question, there is no way they are going to rob the old lady. But, once she gets home and finds that her dad will be moving his girlfriend into their flat just eight months after her mother, and his wife, killed herself she changes her mind.
William and their mutual friend Ben (Jérémy Kapone) all go to the house. Lucie sets the ground rules by saying they cannot break into the house and if they can get in they must damage nothing.
Of course once they get in the rules are abandoned and everything goes horribly wrong.
This was a compelling film to watch as the writers –and directors– cast their actors well and had written their parts to be more rounded than the usual horror film inhabitants. Lucie with her compassion, William with his laziness and Ben with his laissez faire attitude were very real feeling characters. Mrs Wilson seemed a bit odd and not very nice, we are soon shown why we have such misgivings about her.
Marie-Claude Pietragalla was terrifying as Mrs Jessel.
The film looks beautiful. The colours and the textures of the film were close to breathtaking. The cinematography was crisp and spot on.
The actual plot of the film could have been construed as a bit convoluted or at least a bit muddled towards the end of the film, but neither my daughter nor myself felt too confused by the ending. Critics seemed to have a hard time following the ending, but then we all know that critics are not always the sharpest tool in the shed.
I was surprised at how good Livid actually was. I am not a huge fan of French cinema. They seem way too preoccupied with sex. Most of their cinematic offerings feel over sexualized and full of gratuitous nudity. I hasten to add that this applies to “art house” films from the country.
Amazingly, it does not appear to be the norm in their horror films. These at least concentrate on scaring the pants off the viewer and not disrobing their actors on-screen.
My final verdict is that this is a two bags of popcorn movie. It moves at a good pace and it is scary enough that you just might lose part of that first bag of popcorn.
- Killer Clown Found Among the Living for Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (dreadcentral.com)
- 40 Days of Halloween Part 29: Livide (2011) (invizweb.wordpress.com)
- SND to co-pro ‘Among the Living’ (variety.com)
- DVD Review: Livid [MA15] by Bede Jermyn (supermarcey.com)