For his first feature Stéphan Castang plunges Karim Leklou and Vimala Pons into an oppressive survival story and skillfully plays with the boundaries between thriller and romantic comedy.
A few years ago in Thomas Salvador’s film (2015), Vincent had no scales and Vimala Pons accepted this incongruity. The lover was then a fish-man in what claimed to be the ” first French superhero film. Guaranteed 100% free of digital effects. » Today, Vincent must die and Vimala Pons once again finds herself forced to deal with that. From the film of Thomas Salvador to that of Stéphan Castang, there are therefore bridges: a first name, an actress and the same desire to defy the laws of the fantasy genre which is increasingly soluble in French cinema. Vincent would be more or less our Peter Parker, more earthy, less pyrotechnic, but sharing the same anxiety of being different in a world that only recognizes the norm.
Stéphan Castang’s film begins with the discovery of this threat. His own Vincent (Karim Leklou), a cool graphic designer in a cool company with a cool open space, sees a suddenly uncool intern, seized with an unexplained – at least disproportionate – fury towards him. When the thing repeats itself with the “nice” accountant, Vincent seriously begins to become paranoid. Then very quickly, he has to leave the city to isolate himself in the countryside far from the gaze of others, because here it is through the eyes that evil creeps in and defies reason. Some people will see this as a formidable challenge to the very function of the spectator-voyeur. Fortunately, Stephan Castang, a theater and film actor who is signing his first feature film here at the age of 50, is not theorizing anything. Everything is based on a primal astonishment. And in fact, the distancing of urban space gradually invites us to return to the origins of a world on the verge of apocalypse and why not, resort to a claimed triviality (cf. the Dantesque “mud” fight). The staging constantly operates a direct relationship with things, aware that it is from the purest realism that a visceral fantasy can be born.
Vincent must die. The title immediately induces the certainty of inevitable extinction. The poor guy is condemned by a force beyond him. Alone in the world facing his supposed peers who are suddenly dehumanized. Karim Leklou, grandiose, as massive as he is graceful, constantly on alert, with an overwhelmed look, alone bears the weight of his ordeal. As the survivalist nature of the story becomes more and more suffocating, it disrupts Vincent’s perception, and therefore ours. The film seeks the breaking point, sinks into madness, before another point of view gives new perspectives and contradicts the program. Die, perhaps, first survive. It is of course the brilliant Vimala Pons aka Margaux, who gets involved. Pons is not candid. Vincent the anguished, marginalized, touches her. The visions agree: “ Don’t you sometimes feel like the whole world is mad at you? “, she asks casually “ It happens to me yeah! ” LOL. And soon a whole lot of other questions: How can we apprehend the other, if looking is forbidden? Is romantic passion necessarily unreasonable? Vincent and Margaux are soon on a boat, ready to cast off, just in case. It’s simple and beautiful. Brutal too.
Vincent must die arrives later Acid by Just Philippot and The Animal Kingdom by Thomas Cailley, three French fantasy films presented at the last Cannes Film Festival. It will be noted that this is the only one to truly represent the absurdity through the burlesque of a catastrophe envisaged on the scale of an intimacy. In the references he claims (Romero, Carpenter, Buñuel…), Castang also cites Buster Keaton. Here is Vincent as a General mechanic, offering a purely physical experience of the world, where the abused body is forced to adapt to the mad march of unregulated time. Vincent must suffer.
Vincent must die. By Stephan Castang. With Karim Leklou, Vimala Pons, François Chattot… Duration 1h48. Released November 15, 2013