Le dernier de fous

Directed by: 
Le dernier de fous (Demented)

In an isolated farm in the French countryside, a family is falling apart. Faced with a seriously ill mother, who spends her time shut away in her room, and who violently rejects her two sons, the elder gradually takes to drink whilst the husband, very much under his own highly possessive mother’s thumb, passively looks on at the distress of his loved ones. In the midst of all this torment, only young Martin, eleven, tries to fight despair. He finds a little warmth and comfort with his cat, Mistigri, and Malika, the Moroccan servant he adores. However, neither this welcome support, nor his attempts to understand and help his family, can resolve the situation. The familial cocoon inevitably disintegrates. In a final burst of courage, Martin decides to find his own way of bringing all this suffering to an end. A dark and tortured film, Le dernier des fous presents a suffocating huis-clos in which the madness of some individuals drowns out every scrap of remaining life and hope. Returning to the subject of the family in crisis, as seen in his earlier film Plus qu’hier, moins que demain – which also featured Pascal Cervo – Laurent Achard chooses here to present all of the action through the eyes of the boy Martin, whose numerous monologues structure the narrative. Static shots, bluish and cold, as well as the carefully crafted, minimalist soundtrack, with its wind and creaking sounds, further underscore the sense of anguish pervading this isolated farmhouse, and the distress of its characters. An adaptation of the eponymous novel by the writer Timothy Findley, in which the action was originally set amongst the Canadian bourgeoisie in the 1960s, the film is carried by its highly talented cast, such as Dominique Reymond, remarkable in the role of the alienated mother, Fattouma Ousliha (Munich), Annie Cordy and the young Julien Cochelin, making his film debut here. (Festival catalogue)