Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:49 am 
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SARAH MARX: THE TRUK/L'ENKAS (2018) - RENDEZ-VOUS WITH FRENCH CINEMA (FEB. 28- MAR. 10, 201)9

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SANDOR FUNTEK IN THE TRUK/L'ENKAS

A tough life on the outside

Staying in prison would have been preferable for Ulysse (Sandor Funtek of Blue Is the Warmest Color), the young early-released ex-con who finds life on the outside a lot harder, right away. Funtek gives a muscular, intense performance but the rapid, staccato talk and short scenes give him little room to breathe as an actor. The screenplay develops situations but not characters or emotions. Wendy Ide's summary for this film in her Venice review for Screen Daily holds: "It’s a confident, stripped down debut which delivers its stark message with economy, but lacks a distinctive flair."

The lack of "a distinctive flair" is the problem. Marx never transcends her grim, somewhat monotonous material. Unlike (though admittedly it's unfair to compare with a master) Jacques Audiard's prison drama A Prophet, whose young inmate traverses an astounding arc, poor Ulysse feels like the rat in this film that runs around in a garage and then gets electrocuted. A Prophet with its growing epic scale, is the sky above; The Truk is the mud below. The Dardennes may be the real model. Marx has the nitty gritty intensity. She needs more time and more context to reach their level.

Ulysse gets out with the arrangement that he will care for his severely depressed mother (Sandrine Bonnaire). We see prison functionaries discuss this idea. One thinks he will relapse, another that this task will motivate him and give him responsibility. Before he even gets out Ulysse arranges to share in a petty drug scam because "everybody does it" and he needs to, to supplement minimum wage. He needs more than that. He owes his exhausted ex-girlfriend Léna (Virginie Acariès) money for caring for his mom while he was in jail. It also turns out there are additional costs to Ulysse for health care that the social services don't cover.

His plan with pal David (Alexis Manenti) is to hire a food truck to sell burgers and ketamine-spiked beer at electro music raves. They make up a name for their business, "L'Enkas," word play (as explained by Boyd van Hoeij in his Hollywood Reporter review) combining "en cas," snack, with a K, for ketamine. To raise the money for this requires risks. As more people get involved in the event the business situation becomes more aggressive and hostile and David and Ulysse's chance of making any money diminishes. Ulysse's project with David makes them essentially part of a drug ring.

To do this no-nonsense minimalist film credit, it keeps us tightly wound up in its network of bad deals and bad luck. Handheld camerawork by dp Yoan Cart and restrained music (except for the tellingly grating techno during the rave sequence) by Laurent Sauvagnac and Lucian M’Baidem nicely fit the material. His role and performance fit the charismatic and sexy Fundek as neatly as his trim down jacket. This can be a good calling card for him and his director.

The Truk/L'Enkas, 83 mins., debuted in the Venice "Orizzonti" section Aug. 2018; listed in four other festivals. It is listed as " Prochainement" on AlloCiné (Feb. 2019). Screened for this review as part of the 2019 New York Rendez-Vous with French Cinema.
Rendez-Vous showtimes:
Wednesday, March 6, 4:00pm
Sunday, March 10, 1:30pm

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SANDOR FUNTEK UB THE TRUK

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