(André Téchiné, France, 2001)


The cinema of André Téchiné is devoted single-mindedly to the encounter, the tangle, the unexpected meeting or collision that changes the destinies of all individuals concerned.

His stories are all about the moment when an impossibly sheltered innocence born of isolation is broken on contact with the harsh, intoxicating realities of the outside world.

Téchiné's films portray the precipitous encounter of someone with an Other, and the confronting difference of that stranger – whether that Otherness be a matter of sexual preference, race, age, class or ideology (or any cocktail-combination thereof).

His characters long for what most frightens them – and their baptism of fire comes when they negotiate these fraught encounters with worlds that powerfully contradict their own.

Loin is a multi-character, multi-plot piece set in Morocco, a hothouse that gathers legal and illegal immigrants, philosophical exiles and political refugees, Westerners seeking the exotic and locals seeking peace. As always in Téchiné, restless, pansexual, sometimes predatory and often amoral desire stirs the pot of social problems – presided over, in this case, by a distinguished, older, Western writer inspired by Paul Bowles (The Sheltering Sky, 1990).

But Téchiné has moved from his earlier cinema of cruelty of the 1970s and '80s to a cinema of compassion and conscience – an ethical dimension based on questions of allegiance and action.

Loin's tale pivots on a promise made, and its considerable consequences and obligations – somewhat in the mode of the dramas by the Dardenne brothers (Rosetta [1999], La Promesse [1996]).

Shooting for the first time on digital video allows Téchiné to root his scenes more firmly in everyday reality, as he captures a dense, offhand, authentic Moroccan atmosphere that bustles and blares all around his characters.

MORE Téchiné: Alice and Martin, Wild Reeds, The Brontė Sisters

© Adrian Martin June 2002

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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