The Untouchable Benoît Jacquot

The Untouchable Benoît Jacquot
Whatever else can be said against The Untouchable, it’s still one very creative piece of failed filmmaking. Director Benoit Jacquot proves brilliant at framing his shaky narrative with clever misdirection and editing sleight of hand — you almost buy it but in the end, you just can’t because it’s too invested in some rather threadbare ideas. Isilde de Besco proves excellent in the role of Jeanne, and she better be — she’s a white girl playing someone with one Indian parent, which is a little like casting Jeanne Crane as a black person in Pinky. Still, our expectations are high as the film opens with a slap and Jeanne’s mother reveals her suppressed-until-now parentage, but then the film descends into the heroine’s career as an actor and digresses a bit too far for comfort. One can see Jacquot trying to create something amorphous rather than a stiff, straight-arrow narrative but while this gives the illusion of real life, it evaporates the minute we investigate his clichés about artists and his assorted other empty gestures. By the time she’s actually taken the trip to India to discover her lower caste parentage, the film has devoted so much time to inflating bad ideas that we can only enjoy the clever surface noise. This is a completely hypothetical identity crisis; it doesn’t ring true except as a white man’s presumptive abstracting of a situation for completely empty artistic purposes. Still, it might make you scramble for more of Jacquot’s work, preferably something that sticks closer to home and can be validated by the director’s own experience. In fact, you might want to bypass this movie completely and do that first. (Mongrel Media)