Twentynine Palms

Director: Bruno Dumont
Year: 2003
Country: France
Running time: 119 mins
Director/Screenplay: Bruno Dumont
Photography: Georges Lechaptois
Editor: Dominique Pétrot
Music: Takashi Hirayasu,
Bob Brozman, JS Bach
In French and English, with English subtitles

With: Katia Golubeva, David Wissak

Festivals: Venice, Toronto, Vancouver 2003; Rotterdam 2004

Bruno Dumont, director of the visceral, controversial La Vie de Jésus and L’Humanité, joins the ranks of European auteurs mesmerised by the American desert. In Twentynine Palms an American location scout and his Russian girlfriend drive the 150 miles from Los Angeles to the army service town of Twentynine Palms on the rim of Joshua Tree National Park. Like hitchhikers, picked up then ignored, we watch as they drive, bicker in broken French, play the same Japanese country track on repeat, and stop to fuck, noisily. As the landscape grows balder, so does Dumont’s view of humanity: dark elemental forces emerge within and around the couple. Like Hitchcock in one respect at least, Dumont instructs us not to reveal the ending, but the censor’s classification warns you anyway. However you respond to Dumont’s view of ‘the return to wild and violent nature, drifting and raw silence’, his road movie is utterly cinematic in its physicality. It’s utterly uncommercial too: don’t expect a second chance to take this strange and disturbing trip on the big screen.