Well. I have a good record of swerving the opening gala (inevitable crowd-pleaser) of the LFF in favour of something much more interesting and quirky (Sacro GRA stands out from recent years). So, ever in the spirit of the contrarian, this year I plumped for 9 Fingers.
I've never seen any of writer / director F.J.Ossang's work before so I've no clue if this is indicative of his portfolio or not. What I am sure of is that it bears no resemblance to the IMDB synopsis. Which goes: "Magloire starts running with no luggage and no future until he meets a dying man from whom he inherits a fortune. Subsequently, Magloire is chased by a gang and becomes not only their hostage, but also their accomplice." There is certainly a man named Magloire and certainly there is some death but the rest, I have no clue.
My synopsis reads "A gangster gets shot, some gangsters try to rob a mansion. A gangster is bitten by a dog. All the gangsters board a container ship. There is a suitcase of Polonium. Shit gets a bit weird." I'm not sure IMDB are going to be recruiting me any time soon for editorial content but I assure you, this is far closer to the actual movie.
Filmed in deliberately noire-esque black and white and with some wonderfully jarring anachronisms - the gangsters dress as you'd expect a Bogart-era gangster to dress, but the mobile phones place the action somewhere nearer modern day than the 1940's. In truth, the time period is very deliberately blurred as are all the lines in this strangely intriguing movie. Once aboard the container ship, any pretence at action is thrown overboard with the dog bite victim and we land firmly in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern territory. They're going somewhere but none of them have any idea where and for all the difference it makes to them, somewhere is pretty much where they just came from and ultimately where they'll probably end up.
What you make of all that will clearly depend on your patience for non-sequiturs and general futility. A few people sat near me in the screening bailed by about 45 minutes in and I'm fairly certain that a few more stayed only out of politeness. That said, I can't say I'm down on this movie. Ossang is adept at creating a nicely discombobulating atmosphere - out of kilter soundtrack noises and an impressively oppressive camera angle serve to make you feel the confined spaces of the container ship and for a movie where very little happens, the 90 odd minutes whizzed by.
9 Fingers isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea, indeed I have no idea where an audience for this might sit but I'm quite happy I ditched the glitz of the opening gala for this oddity. At the very least, it was £27 cheaper.