Fr 1999
dir/scr Bruno Dumont
cin Yves Cape
stars Emmanuel Schotte, Severine Caneele, Philippe Tullier
147 minutes

L’Humanite is an art film with a capital A. Even the most avid devotee of taxing subtitled movies may find it borderline unwatchable – it must be one of the slowest films ever to gain a commercial release. As the title indicates, Dumont has grand ambitions. There is a plot – a lonely small-town cop investigates the terrible rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl – but Dumont pays little attention to conventional ideas of pacing or character development, stretching almost every scene out to unbearable length. The film has hardly any dialogue, holding particular shots for twenty, thirty seconds at a time, and you start to suspect a parody of pretentious film-making. But, though it makes enormous demands on the viewer, it’s actually worth sticking with. Love or hate Dumont’s approach, it’s undeniably his own – the film seems times to the millisecond, framed to the millimetre, but the results could mean everything just as easily as nothing. It will undoubtedly inspire numerous furious walk-outs, and it isn’t a masterpiece. But it is a work of art.

A more comprehensive analysis of L’Humanite can be found here.