LIFE IS A VERY STRANGE THING
Frederic has been many things: a young rebel in Paris, ethnomusicologist, executive of a multinational garbage business. After decades living abroad he returns to a France that is familiar but on edge. Previously unseen archive from Papua New Guinea and Cambodia mix with contemporary observation to create a compelling and personal reflection on past events that shape the present.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Accompanied by a wonderfully eclectic soundtrack, we follow Frederic and Punch, his senile hunchback whippet ("who would like to be a human being") around Paris and elsewhere, with flashbacks to his time in Papua New Guinea as a young man recording traditional music and taking note of the culture. Back home, he visits family, friends and neighbours, while the filmmakers 'film everything'. There is food, wine and politics, old stories and history.
Pretty well unstructured, the film grazes randomly on its subject rather in the vein of a casual conversation with a new acquaintance, learning bits and pieces along the way, forming a loose picture of him, a picture of a bohemian, rebellious and politically left wing. Fredric narrates accompanying commentary as does his late musician/composer father, Charles, who died after filming was completed, in December 2017.
Apart from a brief and interesting return to Cambodia, Bordeaux and Paris are the places he calls home, and very nice, too. A whiff of nostalgia wafts through the film, suggested by the combination of music and pictures, as well as Frederic's musings, delivered in his gravelly Frenchly accented voice, his rugged face sometimes breaking into a small smile.
The film's raw quality is relaxing and endearing; the impromptu style gives the film a tangible authenticity. Most enjoyable with a decent vin rouge, mon ami.
Email this article
LIFE IS A VERY STRANGE THING (M)
CAST: Documentary featuring FrŽdŽric Duvelle, family & friends
PRODUCER: Les McLaren, Annie Stiven
DIRECTOR: Les McLaren, Annie Stiven
SCRIPT: Les McLaren, Annie Stiven
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Les McLaren
EDITOR: Les McLaren
MUSIC: Not credited
RUNNING TIME: 78 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Ronin Films/Demand.Film Tickets only available online at:
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: August 28, 2018 (Palace Como); August 29, 2018 (Palace Nova). Sydney & Adelaide TBA