Review: 'Alone' ('Seuls') is a mad mess of a French film

Marcus Goh
Contributor
Photo: Shaw Organisation

Should you watch this if it’s free? Okay.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? No.

Score: 2.0/5

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 98 minutes (~1.75 hours)

“Alone” (“Seuls”) is a French young adult science fiction thriller based on the comic of the same name.

It follows the adventures of five children who find themselves trapped in a post-apocalyptic world. They soon learn that there are sinister threats lurking in the harsh environment. If they are to survive in this brave new world, they must find a way to overcome these obstacles and escape.

“Alone” is directed by David Moreau. It stars Sofia Lesafre (Leila), Stephane Bak (Dodji), Jean-Stan Du Pac (Terry), Paul Scarfoglio (Yvan), Kim Lockhart (Camille), and Thomas Doret (Saul). It is rated NC-16.

Photo: Shaw Organisation

If you’ve never seen a terrible French film before, “Alone” will change your mind. Despite being based on a comic (and hence, having plenty of stories to draw upon for their plot), the film takes the corniest aspects of the source material and presents it in a faux arthouse film style. You can clearly see the attempts to make it as artsy as possible, and therein lies the problem. It’s an attempt to be artistic that fails miserably.

Photo: Shaw Organisation

The main offender is the camerawork. Handheld shots are framed awkwardly, chopping off body parts or having distracting objects lurking on the edges of the frame as the the camera desperately tries to follow the movements of the characters. Shots from the perspective of the characters are vomit-inducingly jerky. Other, more stable shots focus on random close-ups before pulling out to reveal the full scene. It’s as if the director David Moreau wants the shots to be artistic, but has no idea how to go about it, resulting in visuals that just look awful.

Photo: Shaw Organisation

Then there is the director’s obsession with flashing images, be they strobe lights or just sudden frames of black. Once would be enough, but this technique is repeatedly too many times. Coupled with the awful visuals, this just serves to make “Alone” an even worse cinematic experience, and the plot doesn’t help.

“Alone” is based on a comic, but the plot is something out of an ’80s cartoon. It’s simplistic but doesn’t offer enough exposition for what’s happening to them. It tries to be metaphorical, but if you’re already uncertain about what’s happening, then it’s difficult to identify which aspects of the plot are literal or figurative. Then there’s an antagonist who laughs exactly like villains do on Saturday morning cartoons. In a live-action movie, this feels absolutely unrealistic and prevents the audience from buying in to the premise of the film.

It’s a pity, because the premise of “Alone” is rather interesting. The film opens with several mysteries about the main character, showing some promise in spite of the strange camerawork. Then the main story kicks in and all storytelling is thrown to the wind. Incoherent scenes are slapped together, characters move from location to location without much explanation, and there’s no consistency to their actions. Even though the locations are, in and of themselves, interesting — the movie is not. It’s an interesting premise given an uninteresting treatment.

Photo: Shaw Organisation

This was a waste of a good concept, and even the visuals fail to impress. The resolution of the film is unconvincing and ridiculous, although it would have worked better if it were in a different medium. If you’re to watch “Alone”, it’s probably best that you’re an existing fan of the original comic. Otherwise there’s very little in the film to derive enjoyment from, besides a few minutes of intrigue at the situation that the characters find themselves in.

“Alone” opens in cinemas:
– 30 November, 2017 (Singapore)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for “Lion Mums”, “Crimewatch”, “Incredible Tales”, and “Police & Thief”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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