‘A Taste of Ink’ (‘Compte tes blessures’): Film Review | COLCOA 2017
Writer-director Morgan Simon’s debut feature stars Kevin Azais as an alienated young musician.
A consistently weighty drama examining the fallout from some harshly internecine father-son rivalry, Morgan Simon’s A Taste of Ink considers the high emotional cost of chronic familial conflict. Although the loud, aggressive live music shot in Paris nightclubs that’s featured in scenes scattered throughout the film may prove off-putting for some, receptive viewers will be rewarded by impressively attuned lead performances.
Raised in a working class Parisian neighborhood, mid-20s Vincent (Kevin Azais) has channeled all the hardship of his young life into his intense vocal style as lead singer of struggling metal band Seven Day Diary. Heavily tattooed and frequently moody, both his demeanor and his unrestrained onstage persona suggest a reservoir of barely contained anger lurking beneath his chiseled features. At the same time, he’s still grieving over the recent death of his mother, although he hides his hurt from his emotionally distant father Herve (Nathan Willcocks), whom he blames for neglecting her during her illness.
The discovery that Herve has started dating again and now has a new girlfriend comes as an unexpected shock for Vincent. He curbs his initial inclination to lash out when attractive, thirtyish Julie (Monia Chokri) proves to be both vivacious and sympathetic to his emotional vulnerability. The unspoken bond that forms between them, strengthened by a steamy encounter after Julie attends one of Vincent’s shows, only grows stronger once Herve begins to suspect something inappropriate might be going on. With father and son vying for the affections of the same woman and neither willing to concede to the other, an emotional clash looks inevitable.
Morgan’s elementally Oedipal narrative benefits from an uncomplicated plot that emphasizes the complexity of the characters’ emotional conflicts. A sensitive young man trying to conceal his wounded soul from both his unsympathetic father and his macho bandmates, Vincent has nowhere to turn to express his true feelings. Julie offers him a receptive ear, but her openness leads to unavoidable temptation. Whether provoked by impetuousness or a sense of revenge, Vincent’s inclination to cross that threshold could forever change everything about his relationship with his father.
Azais, who scored a Cesar award for his performance in 2014’s Love at First Fight (Les Combattants), here essays a coming-of-age transformation that essentially attempts to reunite Vincent with his mother. Aside from its profoundly Freudian overtones, his motivation follows a certain undeniable emotional logic. Throughout this progression, Azais never hesitates to bare Vincent’s soul, even if he recognizes that his character frequently misunderstands his own feelings.
Chokri’s vector is more precise and problematic, navigating a narrow path between consoler and temptress as Julia consistently pushes Vincent towards self-realization, whatever the consequences. Contemplating his character’s annihilation with the ascendency of his own son, Willcocks gradually allows Herve’s stern reserve to crumble in surprisingly dramatic fashion.
Simon’s preference for handheld lensing imbues even the film's domestic scenes with escalating tension, echoed by the band’s chaotic onstage performances and Vincent’s fiercely barked vocals.
Production company: Kazak Productions
Cast: Kevin Azais, Monia Chokri, Nathan Willcocks, Julien Krug
Director-writer: Morgan Simon
Producers: Jean-Christophe Reymond, Amaury Ovise
Director of photography: Julien Poupard
Editor: Marie Loustalot
Music: Selim Aymard, Julien Krug
Venue: COLCOA French Film Festival
Sales: Versatile Films
Not rated, 80 minutes