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Appel D’Urgence short film

Directed by Raphael Biss Starring David Faure and Annaig Briand Film Review by Owen Herman

Appel D’Urgence (or ‘Emergency Call’ in unromantic English) is a French short film from Unseen Motions and director Raphael Biss. It is a charming romantic tragicomedy that starts quite abruptly with our hero, Sebastien, driving off a cliff to his apparent death. The short film then begins to reveal why Sebastien, played by David Faure, went over the edge (both literally and metaphorically).

Love, as is so often the case, lies at the heart of Sebastien’s problems. After months of loneliness he has fallen for Céline (Annaig Briand), the voice on the end of an emergency call he makes. It is a quirky-in-a-good-way love story fuelled by desperation and captured perfectly by the two leads. David Faure, although acting desperate, still provides the charm for Sebastien to come across as well-meaning instead of creepy. Annaig Briand, as Céline, is revealed slowly, as Sebastien discovers more about her. Both performances are engaging and there is chemistry that resonates through the conversations.

There is something quite dreamlike to how Sebastien’s scenes are shot, from the faint glow of the sunlight to the odd singular phone box on the edge of a cliff. The way his story moves back and forth in time adds to this dreamy feel. In contrast Céline’s scenes feel much more real, with darker lighting and a general sense of the mundane. These two effects combine to show how each character feels about the situation with gentle music playing when Sebastien offers a meal out, only for the music to be suddenly cut off by Céline turning him down. This is not the only example of the music being used in a blunt, but dramatically effective, way. Biss plays with the score cleverly to show the thoughts and feelings of these oddball characters. The opening and closing tunes perfectly capture the mood of the short film.

Every note in Appel D’Urgence hits, both romantic and comic. While not belly-laugh funny, its dark humour brings chuckles regularly as Sebastien stumbles through multiple attempts to ask Céline out. The romance works because it is believable with these two characters. Although they approach the situation very differently, they are very similar in their feelings of solitude.

Appel D’Urgence is charming and sweet but also has clever moments of dark comedy woven into its gentle story. A short film that is hard not to like, rather like the desperate and lonely Sebastien.

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