Q&A with director Jean-Baptiste Léonetti moderated by Ted Hope!
If George Orwell and Andrei Tarkovsky had a love child, it would look something like French writer-director Jean-Baptiste Léonetti’s bracing debut feature, set in a dystopian future where childbirth rates are low, suicides high, and that hamburger you’re munching on just might be made from human ground round. When one young boy fails in his own attempt to bring this depressing existence to an end, he finds himself placed in a state-run orphanage and subjected to groupthink rehabilitation, emerging years later as one of the new society’s strictest enforcers. Leonetti's nameless and brutal totalitarian regime is far more scary than what Hollywood has delivered as of late, precisely because it seems like a future we not only could have had, but still might. Carré blanc is delivered in haunting precise images, sounds, and actions. Full of legitimate suspense, references and riffs, from Stanley Milgram's social science experiments to classic sci-fi cinema like Soylent Green and Silent Running, it immerses us into a world that extends far beyond the narrative's confines, where the constant threat of violence indicates the begging need for revolution—be it of the society and its practices or of the individual's heart and mind. This is sci-fi for adults, expressing ideas while maintaining a discipline, love, and even sense of humor for composition, and an appreciative commitment to both restraint and excess. Like Darren Aronofsky's Pi and Duncan Jones’ Moon before it, it announces the arrival of a major new filmmaker.