Subject: Review: Daguerreotype (2017)
(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)
CAPSULE: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a writer and director almost
unknown in the United States, is superb at creating an
atmosphere of dread and suspense as he did with PULSE.
This film is a cut below that film. A famous fashion
photographer takes daguerreotype pictures of his daughter
in memory of his dead wife. His new photographic
assistant has his own ideas that will stir things up.
Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
I just do not know what happened to talented film director Kiyoshi
Kurosawa. He had made a small handful of sublimely creepy horror
films, but after then he seems to have decided to just avoid that
style of the horror genre. Either that or his films stopped coming
to the United States. His CURE (1997) was a police procedural
involving a man who could just brush against someone in the street
and that innocent person immediately became an unstoppable killer.
His PULSE (2001) involved hell filling up and the damned returning
to Earth. His SEANCE (2000) was a remake of the film SEANCE ON A
WET AFTERNOON with supernatural implications the original film did
not have. Sadly, of his work few films seem to have come to our
shores. Now in short order two of his films have appeared, but
they are nowhere the quality of PULSE. DOPPELGANGER (2003) is
rather tedious and DAGUERREOTYPE (2016) is a simple melodrama with
a sadly predictable ending.
Stephane (played by Olivier Gourmet) is a famous fashion
photographer. His hobby is daguerreotype photography. He used to
take daguerreotype pictures of his wife, but she died, leaving him
scarred by the loss. Instead he takes daguerreotype pictures of
his daughter, Marie (Constance Rousseau). The daguerreotype
process is extremely taxing on the subject who must remain totally
motionless for fifty to seventy minutes while the image is etched
in steel plate. Stephane turns a blind eye to the pain and
discomfort he is subjecting his daughter to. He hires a new
assistant to help him, Jean (Tahar Rahim). Jean becomes fixated on
the beautiful Marie. But Stephane possesses Marie. And Jean wants
to loosen his grip her.
The pacing is slow and some shots could have been a little more
closely cropped. The film's 121 minutes could have been cut back a
bit. But the film is undeniably atmospheric. The first half of
the film contributes far more atmosphere than plot, but that
reinforces the overall grimness of the circumstances. This is
Kurosawa's first film to be shot outside of Japan. The film is in
French and takes place in France.
Kurosawa is a master of subtle silent scares. He could be the Val
Lewton of Japanese film. But style without story for it to serve
is incomplete and is a pointless exercise. If Kurosawa is not
going to meld story and style I can only suggest that he study his
earlier, creepier horror films. I rate DAGUERREOTYPE a +1 on the -
4 to +4 scale or 6/10.
What others are saying:
[Note: Kiyoshi Kurosawa is not related to Akira Kurosawa.]
Mark R. Leeper
Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper