Saturday, May 27, 2017

SIFF Sighting: THE ODYSSEY (Drama; France)

Last night I screened The Odyssey, starring Lambert Wilson and Pierre Niney.

Anyone who grew up in the 70s or 80s undoubtedly remembers the magical underwater expeditions of famed French explorer Jacques Cousteau. He was the first to take television cameras deep into the ocean and share a world only a fraction of the population would ever get to fully experience.

This film shows what the real man was like, how he treated his family and his crew.

Jacques (Wilson) did truly love his craft. He lived for the adventure and the thrill, and thrived on the fame his films and programs brought him. Unfortunately, much of that was at the expense of his wife, Simone (Audrey Tatou) who stayed by his side despite his serial infidelities, and his sons—one who shared his adrenaline-fueled passions and one who did not. At some point it became more about the money than anything else, and money sometimes brings out the worst in people.

The story here (as you may have guessed from the title) focuses mostly on the fractured relationship between him and his son Philippe (Niney), who became a key part of his productions yet resented his father for all of his faults along the way. Philippe operated with a code of integrity that his father didn't appreciate until much later in life.

The actors here portray their subjects in an intimate, authentic way and the screenplay—based on a book written by Cousteau's surviving son—helps guide their performance.

Aside from some pacing issues, this is worth a look; if not just for the family story, but for the gorgeous underwater scenery that is laced throughout.


The Odyssey screened at the 43rd annual Seattle International Film Festival.

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