Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Olga Kurylenko in Diane Bertrand's L’annulaire (2005)

An oddly compelling but only partially successful film from director Diane Bertrand, L’annulaire (The Ring Finger) is mostly notable for its striking lead performance by Olga Kurylenko and its haunting score from Portishead lead singer Beth Gibbons. Adapted from a novel by Yoko Ogawa by Bertrand herself, The Ring Finger is sporadically solid, but lacks a consistent tone and suffers from a muddled pretension that it finally can’t bear the weight of.
Bertrand, who has worked in front of as well as behind the camera, made her feature length directorial debut with 1996’s A Saturday on Earth. With The Ring Finger she shows herself as a talent to watch with a clear eye for composition, but her screenplay isn’t as sharp as her directorial eye and the film is ultimately more confused than provocative.
Focusing on a young factory worker named Iris, who finds work at an office that specializes in collecting specimens of personal items from its clients, The Ring Finger is an odd mixture of an erotic drama, ghost story and quirky art-house romance, with a slight shade of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but it never comes completely together.
The Ring Finger would be mostly forgettable if it wasn’t for the superb lead performance from Kurylenko, who is mysterious, seductive and quite heartbreaking as the very lost Iris. The Ring Finger was the debut role for the young, and extremely impressive, Ukraine born Kurylenko and she immediately establishes herself as a bracing and fascinating talent. Sadly Bertrand saddles her impressive female lead with mostly wooden and unappealing co-stars, including Marc Barbe as the head of the clinic, whose non-performance damages the film at every turn. Keep a look out though for legendary Eyes Without a Face star Edith Scob, who gets to share some memorable screen time with Kurylenko.
Outside of being a sharp looking production, thanks to cinematographer Alain Duplantier, and its terrific (but sadly unreleased) score from Gibbons the only truly memorable thing about The Ring Finger is the superlative turn given by Kurylenko. The Quantum of Solace co-star alone makes The Ring Finger watchable all the way through and thankfully she is in nearly every scene.

Strand’s Region-1 DVD of the film doesn’t do it a lot of favors. Containing no extras, outside of some trailers, and non-removable sub-titles, the disc feels more like something that would have came out ten years ago instead of fairly recently. At 96 minutes, it is also considerably shorter than the 104 minute running time listed at IMDB, but I have no idea if the film is actually cut or not.

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