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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeing is believing, December 3, 2010
This review is from: I Want to See [Region 2] (DVD)
Blurring the lines between fiction and reality, Je Veux Voir employs a method of filmmaking used in another film shot in south Lebanon, Under The Bombs. While the latter film was certainly an impassioned piece, the blending of real-life situations with a manufactured drama wasn't entirely a comfortable fit, but was most successful when it showed rather than told. As the French title suggests, Je Veux Voir (I Want To See), intends to do just that, letting the state of Beirut, the bombed towns and devastated countryside of south Lebanon speak for itself.

The words 'je veux voir' are uttered at the start of the film by Catherine Deneuve who plays Catherine Deneuve, a famous French film actress (not much of a challenge there you would think) who has been invited to Beirut to attend a gala event. While she is there however, she wants to know the reality of the place, not just rely on what she has seen on television or heard from other people. And that more or less sums up the film's intent. There's nothing much else happens in the film other than Catherine Deneuve is taken by a taxi driver, Rabih, to the south Lebanon border, witnessing with the eye of an outsider the war-scarred landscapes that to the taxi driver they are even more surreal, with roads displaced, towns vanished, familiar landmarks and paths no longer able to be found.

There's no manufactured drama here, but the film doesn't need it. It's all there to be seen on the roadside and sometimes in the reflection of the car windscreen, it's there in the face of Deneuve and it's there in the dangers that have to be faced taking an important person down into a very dangerous region. The use of Deneuve for such an effect is intentional on the part of the filmmakers, her glamour and status a stark contrast to the reality outside, and the actress is fully aware of the part she plays here and the sense of ambiguity that lies within it, her familiar self-possession and coolness a marked contrast to the emotion felt by Rabih.

Je veux voir is a curious film then - something like a Making of that is actually the film - with it being difficult to discern what is staged and what is improvised, since the whole purpose of the film is about filming what happens when you take Catherine Deneuve down to south Lebanon. At only 65 minutes in length, there may not seem like there is a whole lot going on, but the concept itself, the manner in which it is delivered and the very showing of the current situation in south Lebanon provides more than enough to get to grips with.

The UK DVD from Soda presents the film well, in 2.35:1, with an enhanced widescreen, anamorphic transfer and a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack - image and sound both fine, with optional English subtitles provided. There are however no extra features, which is unfortunate, as some indication of the intentions of the filmmakers, even through a short interview, would have been useful.
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I Want To See (Je Veux Voir) - Starring Catherine Deneuve
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