CAPSULE: A man searches two worlds for the woman he loves. In Tom's world a man begins looking for a wife by only the sound of her voice. On his 25th birthday he chooses a wife born the same day as him by the sound of her reading. Due to a strange ritual, all Tom knows about the woman is the sound of her reading a poem. From there he must guess what he can about her. Then he must find her and hope that he can then win her heart. In his first feature film Thibault Arbre gives us a strange love story of a love triangle, one leg of which is imaginary. NOW WE'RE ALIVE (ET MAINTENANT NOUS SOMMES EN VIE) is in French with English subtitles. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
In the Cinema Libre DVD release of NOW WE'RE ALIVE there is a special introduction to the film by its writer and director Thibault Arbre. He begins by saying he does not like science fiction. He just wanted to tell a story set in our world with one difference. That, in fact, is one kind of science fiction. In spite of his protests this is actually a science fiction film. But I think even Arbre would admit to it at least being a fantasy.
In Arbre's world a man is given a chance to find a mate through a ritual performed on his 25th birthday. He sits blindfolded in front of twenty or so women each of whom is also celebrating--if that is the word--her 25th birthday. Each reads a poem. The birthday boy has to choose to fall in love with one of the twenty voices. Later he must do the detective work to find the woman whose voice he has heard and the loving starts from there. It sounds like it was inspired by Cinderella. And as one might imagine things do not run smoothly. Tom (played by Charles Lemaire) has fallen in love with a voice and wants to find the speaker he now loves. With the help of a specialist detective he is able to find a perfectly lovely girl, Lea (Laure Haulet).
There is just one problem. Hers was not the voice he fell in love with. She has the same birthday and is anxious to marry, but her voice is wrong. After some coercion Tom agrees to officially pick Lea. But that only forces him to create in his imagination Jeanne (Victoria Oberli), the girl with the right voice. She sounds right and Tom can imagine he is living with her, but when he mskes love to Lea and closes his eyes he is making love to Jeanne as he imagines her to be. And he decides he is going to find her. Somehow he extrapolates from Jeanne's voice what she would actually look like and can tell if she look right automatically.
This world seems like a misogynist's dream. The woman is seemingly given no chance to refuse the relationship. Each person of either gender has to live with a nearly arbitrarily chosen mate. It would probably function a lot like a society with arranged marriages. But at least in a society of arranged marriages one might hope that parents would look for someone who would make a good mate. One simply cannot tell very much by something as inconstant as a voice. And human memories are just not reliable enough to find someone who had a particular voice.
With NOW WE'RE ALIVE the premise raises more questions than it answers. How are enough people found who are still unattached and who and all born on the same day? And do not forget they all have to be women. Do they go through the voice test once for each boy they have found for that date? How do they handle when two men pick the same woman? What if the Birthday Boy cannot choose any voice or cannot track down the voice he has chosen? Why do we see only white French people? Where is everybody else with a birthday on that day? One just has the feeling that nobody was trying to iron out the wrinkles of the premise. I rate NOW WE'RE ALIVE a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3757154/combined
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper