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75th Venice Film Festival: Fréres Ennemis (Close Enemies)


75th Venice Film Festival: Fréres Ennemis (Close Enemies)

75th Venice Film Festival Fréres Ennemis (Close Enemies)

A scene from director David Oelhoffen’s crime drama, ‘Fréres Ennemis (Close Enemies).’

Title: Fréres Ennemis (Close Enemies) 

Director: David Oelhoffen

Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Reda Kateb, Sabrina Ouazani, Nicolas Giraud, Gwendolyn Gourvenec. 

The French filmmaker David Oelhoffen — who was acclaimed in the International Critics’ Week of the 2007 Cannes Film Festival with his debut feature ‘In Your Wake’ and at the 2014 Venice International Film Festival with his film ‘Far from Men’ — returns to the Serenissima with ‘Fréres Ennemis’ (Close Enemies).

This time Oelhoffen’s storytelling focuses on two close friends in a suburb riddled by drug trafficking. Throughout the Paris-set contemporary crime thriller, the two men end up taking opposite paths. Driss (Reda Kateb) and Manuel (Matthias Schoenaerts) were like brothers, but as adults they went their separate ways: Manuel chose to embrace a life of delinquency, whereas Driss became a cop. When Manuel’s biggest deal goes wrong, the two men meet again and come to realize they both need each other to survive in their worlds. 

The storyline and direction is very conventional and does not differ from many other crime movies. However the actors brilliantly convey the essence of their characters, that is their visceral commitment to the place of their childhood. Both Manuel and Driss struggle with the group they have decided to belong to and that defines their identities. The man of the law rejected his North African and suburbanite origins; whilst the bandit found a sense of belonging in a family that is not his own. 

The core of ‘Close Enemies’ is seeking the essence of what makes us who we are, as Oelhoffen explained: “I like to talk about this tension between personal freedom and the groups to which we belong: family, love, social and political environments. A dysfunctional geographic area such as the ghetto can be a protection as well as an isolation. It is a refuge and a prison at the same time.”

Technical: B-

Acting: B

Story: C+

Overall: B-

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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The crime drama, 'Fréres Ennemis (Close Enemies)'
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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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