Out Of The World

Out Of The World (Hors du monde) (2020)

Out Of The World (Hors du Monde) first published by VODzilla.co

Out Of The World (Hors du Monde) opens with a montage that is carefully designed to establish the character of the protagonist (Kévin Mischel) without requiring him to speak. To the plaintive sounds of an electro-acoustic song, we see a man scrubbing his hands and methodically washing, vacuuming and wiping his car’s exterior and interior surfaces, before finally cleaning a kitchen knife that he secretes near the front seat. As a driver for an Uber-like service, this man works and apparently lives in his car. He is also a musician, devoting much of his spare time to composing sombre symphonic tracks on his keyboard and computer (in fact the work of composer Pascal Boudet, aka Cyesm). And he regularly stabs women to death, and dumps their bodies in water – or at least imagines that he does. Indeed, in a film which in several scenes expressly confuses its protagonist’s actual experiences and his turbulent fantasies, it is hard to tell exactly what is unfolding in his head, and what in the world beyond – although it is clear that not every atrocity here is mere illusion.

With long hair and an extravagant beard that places him somewhere between Jesus and Manson, the protagonist is also a classic ‘muttering man’ – the type of withdrawn introvert familiar from, say, David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977), Lodge Kerrigan’s Clean, Shaven (1993), David Cronenberg’s Spider (2002) or Matthew Holness’ Possum (2018), who says little and inhabits his own warped interior world. Certainly this film’s antihero struggles with the norms of social fluency – in one sequence abducting a woman (June Assal) at knifepoint just so that he can get basic dating advice from her. So limited are his interactions with others that we only learn his name near the very end, in an exchange which takes place fully and unequivocally in his mind. It is hard to escape the suspicion that his attraction to the dancer Amélie (Aurélia Poirier, who also plays Amélie’s sister Hélène) is partly rooted in her profound deafness, obviating the need for him to break silence or maintain any kind of conversation. The film builds to his big date with Amélie – a time that he devotes to nervous anticipation and the odd murder – making Out Of The World as much demented romance as moody slasher.

The visual coding that writer/director Marc Fouchard (Break, 218) deploys in the opening sequence is matched by a more general narrative economy which allows this story to be told with a minimum of the sort of expository dialogue that the protagonist is so temperamentally loath to offer. The heaviest lifting is done through allusion. We know that the protagonist is caught up in his own dangerously subjective world view because he is a Bickle-like Taxi Driver (1976) observing reality from his vehicle. We both understand and empathise with his status as a voyeuristic, murderous Psycho (1960) because we see both the (literal) scars from his childhood and the fraught relationship that he has with his institutionalised mother (Dominique Frot). We appreciate how his creativity and his craziness can coexist along a precarious edge because we have seen similar haunted aesthetes in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971), Mark Lester’s Class of 1984 (1982), Youssef Delara and Victor Teran’s Enter The Dangerous Mind (2013) and Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Daniel Isn’t Real (2019). 

Out Of The World is a peculiar film. It puts us in the headspace of a man who commits serial violence (whether in the real world or out of it) as an act of liberation that helps him create, while it also engenders its own autumnal art from his misdirected massacres. The result is as brooding and melancholic as one of his compositions.

strap: Marc Fouchard’s synaesthetic psychodrama offers a heady mix of musicality, mania and murderous misogyny

© Anton Bitel