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Twentynine Palms (2004)

Cast: Yekaterina Golubeva, Yekaterina Golubeva, David Wissack, more...
Director: Bruno Dumont, Bruno Dumont
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Fox Lorber
Genre: Drama, Foreign, France, Quest, Road Movies, Erotica
Running Time: 114 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English
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A couple drives their Humvee into the California desert. David (David Wissak) is ostensibly working, scouting locations near Twentynine Palms for a photo or film shoot. His girlfriend, Katia (Katia Golubeva from Leos Carax's Pola X), is along for the ride. David is American; Katia is French and speaks little English. The couple travels through the desert, meandering through the vast, empty landscape. They argue. They make love. Writer/director Bruno Dumont (whose previous film, L'Humanité won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival) uses long takes and an elliptical structure to frame the action as these two characters struggle to communicate while traversing the long, dusty roads. The trip includes a stop for Chinese food, a brief encounter with a belligerent motorist, an argument over ice cream, a painful run-in with a three-legged dog, and a huge argument in the middle of the night, during which the two come to blows. Katia and David reach an uneasy reconciliation, but their strained, though passionate, relationship, is pushed to the breaking point when a terrible, traumatic incident unexpectedly occurs on the road. But the ultimate horror of their little excursion is yet to come. Twentynine Palms was shown at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival, and was shown by the Lincoln Center Film Society in 2004 as part of their annual Rendez-vous With French Cinema. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Good Times! by WMarrinson May 28, 2006 - 12:50 AM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Once I got past the sheer affrontery of suggesting that free ice cream could be had in the California desert, I found Twentynine Palms to be a generally interesting movie. It wasn't great. And it was not as superbly acted as Dumont's previous film, Humanite. To me it seemed to be about a couple who are not in love, or particularly connected to one another - and how for their relationship to survive this condition they need to block out the rest of the world. Who else would drive a Hummer but a couple that has no consideration for the fact that there may be people on earth other than themselves? When not having trouble communicating with each other, they spend their time either fighting or having sex. How else to feel anything? Every encounter with other people presents problems for them. Most of them are minor. Yet Katia overreacts to some while David usually doesn't react at all. Even a chance encounter with a couple of stray dogs has the potential for tragedy with these two. Dumont sees this movie as an American horror movie and since all horror films are about the return of the repressed, when the outside world finally does make an appearance it arrives with the force of a nightmare. Good times!

Contempt by talltale September 22, 2004 - 7:57 AM PDT
6 out of 10 members found this review helpful
I can't recall any director who shows as much contempt for his audience as does Bruno Dumont with TWENTYNINE PALMS: sheer, utter contempt for the intelligence and trust of the viewer. Dumont appears to have an ego of staggering proportions. (I suppose most filmmakers do, but few of them have subjected their audience to time spent as worthlessly as this.) Call this "exercise" existential, call it a hugely negative view of life, call it whatever: it's trash from a poseur supreme. Here's just one small example: this European director somehow imagines that, here in America, a couple can arrive at a Dairy Queen-like ice cream shack, order an ice cream without noting which flavors they want, be served, not pay, and then walk away with no problem. I could go on--Dumont certainly does--but why? Avoid this one like the plague. Oh, yeah: there's plenty of nudity and then a pile of violence and blood. Though clearly not blessed with a single humorous bone in his body, this director's instinct for the "commercial" is sleazily alive.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 3.83)
52 Votes
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New French Extremity
Predominately films that would be classified as 'horror' with a few notable exceptions. Many films get lumped into this catagory because the director has made films considered "transgressive".

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