A Distant Neighborhood

We hit the sneak preview this afternoon that the teacher's union organizers for its members. There was not much advance information about the film, except that it was a father-son story. We were expecting "Vertraute Fremde", the title said "Quartier Lointain", and on the Internet I only find an announcement for "A Distant Neighborhood" that sounds like the story.

At the end of the film WiseMan said that it sounded like a manga, and according to this, it is indeed a manga by Jirô Taniguchi adapted to the screen by Sam Garbarski.

Thomas is a comic artist in his 50s. He is heading off on a business trip to a comic book fair. His wife is too busy telephoning to give him a kiss goodbye, his daughters are fighting about something in the fridge. At the fair a customer asks why he hasn't made a new comic in the past 2 years. Thomas notes that he is looking for a new story.

On the way home he gets on the wrong train and ends up in his boyhood village. The emptiness of the town of today is contrasted to the bustling little village it once was in the following, as Thomas faints while visiting his mother's grave and is transported back (in a dream?) to his 14-year-old self. He has the knowledge of the older man in the body of the boy.

It is entertaining to see France in the early 60s. When the teacher lights up a cigarette in class the teachers in the audience all murmur to each other. And they make understanding noises at each of the painful teenager situations. Sure, they have to put up with them all week.

Thomas wants to ask his parents lots of things, and he wants to keep his father from going to get bread the evening of his birthday and never coming back. Of course, if he would be made to come back, then Thomas would not be the Thomas that he now is.

There are comical scenes in which he calls the girl who will grow up to be his wife, but who of course does not know him. He tries to tell people about coming things - Berlin Wall falling down, man on the moon, but everyone thinks that he is being just a crazy teenager.

The story twists along, coming back to a déjà vu situation that we don't get to see how it ends. There are no credits after the film, just "á mon père" (for my father). Of course, this might be because of the sneak preview thing, but I wanted to know what beautiful town it was filmed in.

Not the best film I've seen in the past year, but an enjoyable afternoon at the movies.

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