Alleluia (Fabrice Du Welz, 2014): Belgium/France

Reviewed by Claire Waterhouse. Viewed in Hollywood at the AFI Fest 2014.

Alleluia is a film that shocks, intrigues and keeps us tense for two hours. It is loosely based on a true story and director Fabrice Du Welz created a film that is both frightening and visually stunning in its use of miss-en-scene. The film begins and we are taken into the life of Gloria, a young and single mother. She is persuaded by her friend to try online dating and when she accepts a dinner invitation from Michel, she quickly falls deeply in love with him. We are able to see Gloria’s feelings  through the colors used and the lighting of the scenes. We initially discover her immense passion for Michel when they first make love after their date. In this scene, the lighting is dark and romantic and then the lighting becomes blinding and red, red being a color often associated with the words “love”, “passion” “fire” and “anger.” The character proxemics also give us the impression of the closeness she feels to the new man in her life. Gloria has only known Michel for one evening but we are able to see her slowly transform into a character unknown to us the next morning. Her eyes tell us a lot but also shield us from her. She leaves her daughter with Michel, the man she has only known a few hours and then returns and offers him money of which he says he is of in desperate need. She does not hear from him but later runs into him repeating the same date they had,but even in discovering his deceitful ways, she leaves her life and decides to live with him and help Michel continue to win over women and take money from them. As Michel begins to seduce these women, Gloria becomes furious and decides to kill anyone who gets close to him. The sound is often loud and jarring and this attributes to the subject itself, being dark and twisted. In the first portion of the film, the camera uses extreme close ups and often shows us Gloria’s eyes and a close look at her face. As the film continues, the faces of Gloria and Michel begin to be shown less and more covered when they are, leading us farther away from their madness who they are as people. The film is dark both thematically and visually. Much of the film feels like a “film-noir” film in its grand use of shadows and darkness, there is a major sense that evil is lurking and we are shown this through the lighting and this created sense of wonder, confusion and worry. This film is a wild journey and keeps you on the edge for the entirety of the film, never quite understanding the characters or what is next in store, but this is part of what makes it such a thrilling ride.

About this entry