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BRUNO REIDAL (2021, FRANCE) – 8/10

Vincent Le Port presented a shocking and disturbing psychological biographical drama during the Cannes critics’ week. “Bruno Reidal”, which in the English title also has the subtitle “Confessions of a Murderer”, is a film that literally freezes the blood in the veins from the beginning to the end, and it was filmed by Le Port according to the real records of a 17-year-old who in 1905 killed a boy in a French village. Although in terms of style, narration and the way in which Le Port presents the story, he obviously found his role model in his famous compatriot Bresson, “Bruno Reidal” is as shocking as Passolini’s “Salo”. That said, this definitely won’t be a film for everyone, and the almost documentary-like, raw style chosen by Le Port makes this story even more brutal.

Immediately in the introduction, we see that 17-year-old Bruno Reidal, a young man who grew up in the French countryside, killed a boy. He then turned himself in to the police and confessed to the murder, and the commission now has the task of determining whether he is fit to stand trial or clinically insane. His task is to compile records or rather a diary about his life in which he should explain why he did it. Present his version of events and show what was happening in his head from childhood until the moment when he brutally killed the boy without any reason. And the subtitle of the film best explains what we are dealing with here. This is really the anatomy or rather the psycho-profile of a killer and this film was made according to Reidal’s actual records.

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And while everyone probably thinks about everything and various dark things in their head, there are few who decide to realize those dark things. What must go on in someone’s mind to become such a cold-blooded, seemingly completely callous killer is a question that continues to be answered. Whether someone becomes such a psychopath at birth, whether life circumstances shape him or her, or if the solution is actually a mix of one and the other, is a question to which there is still no precise answer. However, in Reidal’s records, we see that he was haunted by murderous urges, sick and sadistic thoughts since childhood.

Only when I think about the idea of ​​murder, only then am I calm, writes Reidal as he explains his sick urges and describes his life since growing up in a poor peasant family where he was one of six children. Apart from the fact that “Bruno Reidal” is a shocking and dark psychological study, it is a film that also offers a completely different view of France at that time. And while in films and literature we see France at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries as a country of the Belle Epoque, a society of intellectuals, writers, artists and urban bourgeoisie, here we get the exact opposite of that romanticized and idealized image of France of that era.

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A poor village where it is still difficult to live and starve and where the church is still the main authority, so Bruno, the best student in the class, will go to the seminary to become a priest, for reasons that he himself cannot fully fathom. But even there, black, murderous thoughts will constantly haunt and chase him, no matter how much he tries to chase them away with hard work and constant studying and reading in order to be the best in the class. So even though “Bruno Reidal” is definitely one of the films that will be too much for many, because everything we will hear, unfortunately also see, is deeply disturbing and creepy, even morbid, Le Port certainly made a quality and brave film that really has sense.

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How and why are questions to which he is obviously trying to find an answer, and he not only does not want to soften and filter the controversy of the topic he is investigating, but shows it in the rawest and cruelest way possible. Almost in the footsteps of Michale Haneke, who also often did not go too far in depicting the deepest corners of human pathology, Le Port also explicitly shows everything that Reidal thinks and does. It is a creepy psychological study in which, like the author, he tries to understand what happens in a person so that he becomes that way, and “Bruno Reidal” is one of those films that is not so easy to forget.