ROTTERDAM REVIEW: Gatlif Goes Godard with Anarchic "Stork"
by Mark Peranson
(indieWIRE/2.3.2000) -- Presumably tired of being branded "that gypsy filmmaker," Tony Gatlif
has leapt out of the closet and into the ocean with "Je suis de n'une
cignone" ("The Children of the Stork"). Seems the Algerian-born,
French-based director, whose recent oeuvre encompasses a trilogy of
bawdy, musical documentary-inclined Rom fiction ("Latcho Drom," "Mondo,"
"Gadjo Dilo") is a New Wave-loving anarchist, so much so that he wills
to make an entire film in the 60's vein of the Godard-ian heyday. Doomed
to be deemed too precious by a half, it's self-conscious and very much
political in a time when political filmmaking is thought to be pointless
or only takes hidden, often aesthetic, forms.
Hyped as a "political-metaphorical road movie," "Stork" is really an
attempt to make a vigorous and lively work about the deleterious
consequences of unemployment and immigration. Gatlif's response is to
turn to a self-reflexive bag of tricks, hyper-aware that he's going to
be pissing off most critics who see naturalism as the only way to tackle
such serious issues.
The leads of "Gadjo Dilo" (aka, "The Crazy Stranger"), Gatlif's last
release, return here, and many are sure to think Gatlif himself has lost
it. The smarmy, self-referential Otto (Romain Duris), an unemployed
25-year-old, sells The Iterant newspaper on the streets and talks back
to the camera. His eyes are opened to the potential for action when his
friend Ali (Ouassini Embarek) gives him a gun found in the trash,
explaining that a weapon can change one's destiny. Otto's lady friend
Louna (Rona Hartner) is an apprentice hairdresser who is fired for
getting soap in an old lady's eyes; in response, she pulls out a pair of
scissors and threatens her boss, before cutting her own hair.
Things really start heating up when Ali, tired of being forced to
assimilate by his father (who insists on calling him, like all French
boys, Michel), torches dad