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Le Studio Canal
Official Site
Director: Christophe Gans
Producers: Richard Grandpierre and Samuel Hadida
Written by: Christophe Gans and Stephane Cabel
Cast: Samuel Le Bihan, Vincent Cassel, Emilie Dequenne, Monica Bellucci, Jerémié Renier, Mark Dacascos

Rating: out of 5

As a general rule, I’m not a big fan of the French cinema. Oh sure, I recognize their contributions to the landscape of film and all, but if given the choice between Truffaut’s immortal classic THE 400 BLOWS and, say, DIE HARD 2, I’ll have to go with Bruce Willis battling terrorists every time. Those of you out there in cyberland who consider yourselves to be “appreciators of cinematic art” have just painted a mental image of me and I guarantee it’s not a flattering one. You see me sitting on a couch, my faded “Big Johnson” t-shirt stained with freshly spilled Mountain Dew and my hand firmly planted in a bag of Cheeto’s Paws as the latest NASCAR race comes to its exciting conclusion. I swear to you all that that is not the case. I like art films just as much as the next film critic, particularly the ones that use nudity as metaphors for stuff. It’s just that when it comes to French films, I’ve never been able to find one that I could call entertaining.

Until Now. (cymbal crash!)

I’m going to kick this review off by saying that BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF is one of the best movies of the year, hands down. It is that rare breed in film-land, a multi-genre picture that actually feels fresh and original, while still managing to be instantly familiar and likable. And what a laundry list of genres it represents! WOLF contains, in its nearly three-hour run, elements of horror, kung-fu, suspense, Elizabethan drama, romance, X-Files-ian conspiracy, and standard action, all seamlessly blended together. About the only genre that this doesn’t have in it is Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker-style comedy, and I have a feeling THAT was left on the cutting room floor.

Now, what of the plot? I’ll grant you that, if you look at the bare bones of the story, it bears some structural resemblance to a little shark movie called JAWS. A large creature (in this case, a werewolf) is terrorizing a sleepy village; experts are called in to help the locals stop it; regular, everyday wolves are hunted and killed en masse, etc., etc. There are even some particular scenes that smack of Mr. Spielberg’s film, most notably WOLF’s opening attack sequence which, while on land and during broad daylight, still manages to remind one of the poor girl getting chomped on at the beginning of JAWS. But who cares, it’s a really, REALLY cool scene. Also, that’s just scratching the surface of the dense, multi-layered plot that WOLF brings to the table. There is A LOT going on in this movie, (everything from royal-court intrigue to forbidden love, to native American mysticism) so I would suggest seeing this when you can train your full attention on it. Also, I wouldn’t go to the bathroom after, say, the credits, because I guarantee you’ll miss something good.

I think the thing that grabbed me so hard about this movie is its ability (and a rare ability it is) to have stand-out, individual scenes that you’ll go home talking about, yet still have a film as a whole that is worth going to see. How many movies can say that? I can only think of one, that being DIE HARD 2 (rimshot). But seriously, this is one of the few films where the sum of its parts equals the whole. As far as the technical side goes, I recommend seeing this in a big-ass stadium-seating theater with a hardcore Dolby system. The stunningly beautiful cinematography and the bone-crunching sound deserve nothing less.

I can think of nothing else to say about BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF other than to plead with you to go see it immediately. If it’s not playing in your area, road trip it to the next town over, hell, fly to New York if you have to. Just go see it! If you’re like me and have ever wistfully said to yourself, “If only JULES ET JIM had a kung-fu Indian and some gory maulings…” then this is definately the film for you.

—Clint Davis

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

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