Joan Of Arc: Review

Joan Of Arc: Review

By Alif Majeed.

There is a thing that my friend keeps saying whenever he eats something that he doesn’t like. Generally, if you have something that you don’t like, you might say it’s good or bad, depending on whether you liked it. With him, I immediately know he didn’t like it when he eats the food and goes, “interesting.” It has become his go-to word for things he doesn’t enjoy. After watching Joan of Arc, i couldn’t help but wonder what he would think of it.

Joan of Arc, directed by Bruno Dumont, could have been an exciting experiment, and it had incredible potential to be so much more than that. Based on one of the most iconic figures in France who inspired people from all mediums. The most famous example of them among cineastes maybe Carl Dreyer’s Passion of Joan Of Arc and Luc Besson’s The Messenger. 



Joan of Arc is the latest movie to come out of that vast space. It is also a sequel (or rather, a quasi continuation) to Bruno Dumont’s 2017 film, Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc. Even as he is an extremely divisive filmmaker, the best thing about the first movie is that it entirely lives up to his reputation for better or worse. Things like its use of the spare barren location, the long shots that linger on the actors forever, and the music by Igorrr, which somehow works even if it has no business to all came together to make it a unique take on the early days of Joan of Arc. 

Here, the movie depicts Joan continuing her siege to her incarceration and trial to her final demise. Sadly, though it still looks like the movie will be unique while expanding on the themes of the first movie and continuing the story from its prequel, it doesn’t manage to stick the landing well. The unevenness in tone and the fact that after a point, the songs kind of gets overbearing hampers Jeannette to some extent. But the truth is it could have used more of that over here. Maybe the director was not trying to repeat what he did, but you seriously miss the prequel’s madness in Joan of Arc. 

Both movie also owes a considerable debt to the theatre to a large extent. If Jeannette partly feels like a musical theatre, Joan feels like a version of the kitchen sink dramas. Though not that best version of either of them.

There are several bizarre scenes in the movie where you think it would go somewhere but ends up grating your nerves. Like the scene where Joan finally rides a horse to what looks like a battle, but somewhere down the line, you kind of zone out as the scene keeps cutting from drum beats to Joan to overheads shots of the horses playing a game of revolving chairs. It continues with the tradition of the first movie of staging several necessary scenes and conversations with actors across barren sparse landscapes. 

As far as the performance of Lise Leplat Prudhomme as the titular character is concerned, she is excellent in a role you could say she continued from the first movie if you ignore the second half. Having played the younger version of Joan while giving over the reins to Jeanne Voisin in the latter part of the film, she already had herself as he point of reference. Considering she was a significant part of the reason why the first movie worked or why you could buy into the musical version of the film, it is hardly a surprise. It might also seem strange only if you had seen the first movie and get too caught up in that detail. 

As she had herself as he point of reference, she managed to give a performance that belies her age with great maturity and skill, which was also evident from the prequel. Take the scene where she is on trial with the religious Clergymen and Burgundians determine to hang her. It is a scene that stretches on despite being the centerpiece of the movie, but she manages to flirt the fine line between a kid throwing a tantrum and someone who is defiant even while staring at her doomed fate. 

Ultimately I would not know what my friend would say if he ever watched it as is not the kind I can get him to watch. But from what I know of him, he would probably find it “interesting”. Or if I prob further, he might say it is an interesting failure. That is how I would sum up Joan of Arc. It might be an interesting failure. But a failure nevertheless.


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