One to Another
NEW YORK -- Based on a true story, "One to Another" is a brisk examination of sexuality voiced as a murder mystery. The first hour, which explores sexual experimentation among a group of late teens, is interesting and provocative. After that, it pales a little as the murder mystery comes to prominence.
The film, which played here as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's yearly rendez vous with French Cinema showcase, is controversial enough to generate word-of-mouth. But an inconclusive ending will hamper chances at the boxoffice. Netflix/Strand Releasing distribute in the U.S.
The story revolves around a group of five teens in provincial France. Lucie (Lizzie Brochere), the only girl, has slept with a couple of the boys, but her true love is her brother Pierre (Arthur Dupont). He returns her incestuous feelings. Pierre is the charismatic leader of the group and, to complicate matters, is a practicing bisexual who is sleeping with one of the other boys. When Pierre mysteriously disappears, a worried Lucie attempts to find him. But his relationships have raised more tensions than anyone had dared to admit.
Director Jean-Marc Barr (probably still best known for 1988's "The Big Blue") and co-director/writer Pascal Arnold do a good job of downplaying the story's sensational elements. The theme of incest is explored in a very matter-of-fact way. It never occurs to the brother and sister that there's anything wrong with their liaisons, even though they are sensible enough to keep them secret from those outside the group. The directors are more interested in how the characters interact than the morality of their relationships, so these are presented very objectively.
Unfortunately, that objectivity carries over into the mystery. Although the culprits are finally revealed, no hint is given of their motivation. It's fine to make audiences work things out for themselves, of course, but in "One to Another" the material to figure out why the crime was committed just isn't there.
The young cast cope admirably with the difficult subject matter.