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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 12.05.11] Belgium review drama

Year: 2011
Director: Nicolas Provost
Writers: Nicolas Provost, Giordano Gederlini
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 5 out of 10

I had expected that a film which opens as Nicolas Provost's The Invader (L'envahisseur) does would bring something new and interesting to the illegal immigrant drama but aside from a fantastic follow-up scene, Provost's film moves along at a snails pace as Amadou, an African illegal immigrant, falls in love with a wealthy woman and stalks her around the city.

At first, Agnès seems thrilled at the attention. Amadou is charming, direct and handsome. He's clear about what he wants and though Agnès tries lamely to fight off his advances, she quickly agrees to his proposition and the pair end up at her loft spending the afternoon together. Agnès is determined to keep this as a one time affair but Amadou wants more and after unsuccessful attempts to meet with her, he begins to spend his days outside her office waiting for her to make an exit.

In the span of a few days, Amadou turns from a hard working immigrant trying to pay off his travel debt, to a man so infatuated with a woman he hardly knows that nothing else seems to matter. He stops working, stalks Agnès and eventually takes out his anger and disappointment on the man who trafficked him into the country as cheap labour. Amadou's change from self-sufficient individual to love struck fool is quick and all encompassing and most of the film's running time is focused on Amadou's adventures as he waits for the object of his affection to re-emerge. At first, the unfolding events are interesting mostly because Amadou's charisma attracts strangers to him but the moments quickly lose their appeal and I found myself bored for most of the film as Amadou struggles with the knowledge that Agnès wants nothing to do with him.

I really enjoyed Isaka Sawadogo's performance as Amadou which is both fearless and raw. Sawadogo, and the film has a whole, is limited on dialogue and much of the film's success relies on Sawadogo's wordless performance which he successfully delivers with his expressive face but I didn't care for either the character or the story progression. Amadou's interest in Agnès is immediately apparent but it's not clear what his intentions are until he pleads his case to her. After their encounter, dismissal and his inability to let go, The Invader loses its steam and becomes a story of obsession with few thrills. There's never a feeling that Amadou will turn violent but he's clearly blinded by love or some such nonsense and when the story finally advances out of limbo, the sudden eruption of violence is unexpected and a case of too little action far too late.

Though it starts off with great promise and features some interesting scenes throughout, worth noting that most of the film's memorable moments feature women as objects of desire – something which is likely to stir the pot with some viewers, The Invader is a beautiful but ultimately dull tale of a man lost alone in a foreign place. That said, Provost certainly shows a knack for striking scenes and I'm hopeful his follow-up feature will be more successful.

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