Monday 11 September 2023

Movie Review: Out Of Life (1991)

Original Title: 
Hors La Vie
Genre: Hostage Drama
Director: Maroun Bagdadi
Starring: Hippolyte Girardot
Running Time: 97 minutes

Synopsis: After covering the brutal chaos of the Lebanese civil war for many years, French photographer Patrick Perrault (Hippolyte Girardot) is abducted in Beirut. He is held hostage in confined and filthy conditions, and often secretly transferred to different locations. His emotions fluctuate from defiance to despair as he interacts with numerous guards and their bosses. 

What Works Well: Inspired by actual events, director and co-writer Maroun Bagdadi navigates a painful journey to the depths of human misery. With all dignity and independence stripped away, Patrick's only meaningful interactions are with his captors, and even these are laced with the danger of the wrong word at the wrong time. His emotional degradation mirrors a city's obliteration: Hippolyte Girardot finds gnawing despondency behind increasingly hollow eyes, while the opening scenes of urban warfare and brief interludes on the ravaged streets of Beirut capture the horrors of endless civil war.

What Does Not Work As Well: Other than the abstract battles between militias, the absence of contextual background places a high burden on the central protagonist. The kidnappers' objectives remain a mystery, and likewise the outside world's reaction to Patrick's plight is ignored. The vacuum surrounding his emotional state slows narrative momentum to a slog.

Conclusion: Singularly grim, but stubbornly focused on the individual.

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  1. What happen to his girlfriend

    1. That's a good question. The film intentionally leaves Patrick isolated from the outside world to create that sense of desperate isolation. In this case it's a double-edged cinematic sword.

  2. Hi, first of all, the reason for Patrick's kidnapping is stated multiple times; they are doing a sort of exchange of hostages and holding him ransom so the French government can release the chief's brother. Also these 'abstract' battles you are talking about are the open fire battles between the different parties fighting against each other; most likely, they are in a Shiite village if you noticed the Imam and flags in the villages when they are transferring him, not to mention the names of the captors, Ali, Mostafa...names that shiite usually name (But Ali is revealed to be named Omar, even though he is Shiite, that is strange because Shiite people despise Omar). The outside reaction is ignored because that is not the point of the film; the point is to show the plight of this journalist, showing how valuable a journalist role is, and how he is treated differently from other hostages; yeah they do psychological torture to him, but they aren't allowed to kill him, but the end of the movie when Patrick tries to call them, the phone rings in an empty, abandoned kitchen, maybe alluding to the fact that they have been killed.


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