Stars: Xavier Christian, Stacie Stocker, Michael Hanelin and Maryam Cné
A fresh month means a fresh review of a Travis Mills movie and this one's a challenging one. I watched it last year but didn't get it, so I let it sit for a while and came back later. Unfortunately I still don't get it and writer/director Mills is keeping tight lipped. The Running Wild site calls it 'a storytelling experiment in structure', which is clear enough, the ten minute running time split up into three sections, The Fall of Man, Crucifixion and Resurrection, suggesting a Biblical theme. However the story, if we can call something so abstract and disconnected a story, has no obvious Biblical connotations, instead providing a modern day spy plot. The title could refer to one of two different characters, though the IMDb synopsis hints at one. There are three acts, set up as slices of story rather than progressions, perhaps with the important bits skipped over. The score plays on for a while after the credits, inviting the fourth act to unfold in our ideas of what happens next.
Given that I still don't know what happens, even though I've seen The French Spy a few times, it's pretty clear that spoilers don't apply. The film feels like a riddle to be unravelled, though its very elusiveness may tie to there not being an answer. So I'll try to unravel it and Travis can laugh at how wide of the mark I'll surely end up. What we see is a man, played by Xavier Christian. He's in the park, reading Alan Furst, an American spy novelist, when a lady sits down next to him with a Georges Simonen. Neither speak French, or so they say, even though he sounds continental and her Maigret is in French. So she makes her offer in English. Later, he's chained up and bloody in someone's house, with a litany of his supposed exploits as a French spy being recounted back to him. The lady interrogates him in French. In the last act, he's in another lady's back garden, still bloody, when he's offered a drink. The end.
These may (or may not) be good questions, but I don't have good answers. This clearly isn't about sparkling dialogue, but everything we see and hear appears to be very deliberate. Christian plays a capable mystery man and Stacie Stocker does well in two languages as the lady who really does speak French. Her sidekick is Michael Hanelin, from The Memory Ride, who is believably someone you don't want to look up at from a chair you've been tied to. Maryam Cné completes the cast as the young lady at the end. Maybe it's all a con and she's really the French spy because, hey, she has an accent on her awesome last name. With the story cut down to the quick and its supporting material gone, it's hard to know if they've done their jobs right or not but I presume they did fine. Maybe the key to it all is in the fourth act, the one that plays out after the movie is over but the music continues on, improvised in our imaginations from a theme by Travis Mills.
The French Spy can be viewed for free at YouTube.