Anticipation: Our Day Will Come
It has undoubtedly been noted before how different to his father Romain Gavras is as a director. Costa-Gavras is best known for his political thrillers; the likes of the brilliant State of Siege, Missing and Z, all leftwing, politically engaged yet engrossing narratives with thriller elements. It says much about the contemporary global film industry that Romain's earliest notable work has been on music videos instead of low budget or independent films. After establishing a reputation in that area for boldness, stylistic fluency and an originality of vision, he has graduated to big time advertisements and his first feature.
That Feature, Notre Jour Viendra (Our Day Will Come) takes the central premise from his most famous work, the video for MIA's "Born Free" and takes it off in another direction. The setting is a world like our own, except in this world, redheads are subject to discrimination and abuse. In the "Born Free" video, we see a team of shock troops take a Ginger young man from his home by force, herd him onto a bus with a bunch of other Ginger men, drive them all out into the desert, and then force them at gunpoint to race across a minefield.
The money shot is the evisceration of a teenager into chunks of blood and bone in loving slow motion.
If that all sounds ridiculous, well it does serve as a sort of primitive satire, and is redeemed by Gavras' direction. He combines the slickness of a modern Hollywood director with a great eye, ruthlessly rhythmic editing to the song his images serve and a subtly European humorous artsiness (some might call it pretension) which you will either find amusing or infuriating. It combines to make a unique and unforgettable video:
M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.
For me his other great music video is for Justice's "Stress", a gritty, ultraviolet yet strangely haunting collision between La Haine and Gaspar Noe:
Just from those two promos a couple of his quirks are evident: he has a slightly adolescent awe of violence, a nice way of incorporating homage into his work ("Born Free" plays to me like a big tip of the hat to Peter Watkins' great Punishment Park), exemplary technical control, and a well-balanced mix of European and American sensibilities. All of this then suggests that Our Day Will Come should be worth waiting for. It stars Vincent Cassel, and is set in a Ginger-prejudiced world, evolving into a road movie as Cassel and a young red-haired friend journey across France towards Ireland, reputedly safe haven for all Gingers. It looks bizarre, in an interesting way, and even from the trailer you can tell it was made by a real Director:
It was released in France last year and already available on DVD there. Since then, Gavras' most high-profile work is the new Adidas spot, "Adidas Is In All" which showcases the new Justice track, "Civilisation", and is a pretty storming piece of brand iconography, filled with beautiful imagery. I love this longer version, much though I resent Lionel Messi having to share the screen with mere basketball players and skateboarders, and worse, Katy Perry:
Gavras founded the collective Kourtrajme with Kim Chapiron in 1994 and they worked on shorts and around the outskirts of the Parisian music industry for years before finding success (Chapiron was the first to direct Cassel in Sheitan) . This background explains his longstanding relationship with Justice. As well as the Adidas spot and the "Stress" video, he directed their tour documentary, A Cross The Universe, which he edited into a great little trailer-cum-video for their song "Phantom II":
A couple of his other more interesting Videos follow (for Simian Mobile Disco and DJ Medhi) together with an advert for Yves St Laurent which is quite different from the majority of his work in tone:
Our Day Will Come is presently without a distributor in the UK. It would be a shame not to see the debut feature work of such a visually muscular director on the big screen here, but it's not too late...