Director: Jérôme Salle
Starring: Lambert Wilson, Pierre Niney, Audrey Tatou
The Odyssey good film that sits on the edge of greatness but holds itself back due to a lack of focus. Detailing the life of Jacques Cousteau, a marine documentary filmmaker from the 1950’s and 60’s, this is a French film with themes of family, love and betrayal. it is a technical marvel and features some of the most jaw-dropping underwater cinematography that I have ever seen in a movie, but lacks the emotional weight the visuals deserve due to sporadic editing and an over-written script.
On a purely mechanical level, The Odyssey is a phenomenal film. This is best presented by its jaw-dropping cinematography, which fills the screen with vibrant colours and stunning movements in every shot. This is one of those movies where you could almost take any shot and hang that frame on your wall. The best of the cinematography is shown underwater during the film’s many diving sequences. More than most other movies, The Odyssey really captures the vastness and beauty of the ocean in a dramatic setting. The scenes in lakes where the characters are surrounded by fish are truly magical and there are some scenes of whales which really emphasise just how monolithically massive they are. The deep blues and soft light only help to push this film to the visual tour de force it is. These amazing shots are complimented with a beautiful score featuring soft violins in the slow parts and a loud orchestra when the tension increases. While this is fairly standard for most French faire, it is done particularly well here.
What holds this film back more than anything else is the screenplay. There is a great story to be told here but for a film with a two hour run time, the screenplay tries to tell too much and sacrifices the emotional ties to the characters the audience really needs. It goes without saying that the film is absolutely riveting and has a great message at the end, but there are scenes that would be so much more powerful were they given more time rather than being cut down to fit more in. The scene to scene editing only contributes to this issue, as there are opportunities to let important scenes become more fleshed out, but they are all cut short to fit everything in.
The Odyssey is a very accessible French film with some stunning visuals and great acting. It’s not the best film you will ever see but if you want to go to the movies and you have an opportunity to see it on the big screen, I would recommend it.