Bloody Oranges (Oranges sanguines)

Bloody Oranges (Oranges sanguines)
Running time:102 minutes
Director:Jean-Christophe Meurisse
Release date:Not communicated
At the same time in France, a couple of over-indebted pensioners try to win a rock contest, a minister is suspected of tax fraud, a young teenager meets a sex maniac. A long night is about to begin. The dogs are let loose.

Mulder's Review

"I quickly thought about the character links, the bridges between the different stories, with a game of parallels and alternations. In a mosaic film like Blood Oranges, the difficulty is to find the echoes between the stories, not to lose the characters along the way. These echoes must be organic rather than intellectual or theoretical. For example, the over-indebted seniors respond to the tax evading minister without it being explicit. This ends up giving a sketch of French society. - Jean-Christophe Meurisse

It is always interesting to discover French films in American film festivals because it shows that they know no borders and can reach a worldwide audience. We have to admit that this edition of Fantastic Fest was very selective because the films Barbaque (Some like it rare) (2021) and Bloody Oranges (Bloody Oranges) are two excellent comedies with horrific elements. In the case of Bloody Oranges we find here a satirical comedy dealing with politics, old people in distress, sexual disorders but also the passage from adolescence to adulthood. For his second film after Apnea (2016), Jean-Christophe Meurisse writes and directs a comedy that has everything to become cult and has a cast in which we find Alexandre Steiger, Christophe Paou, Lilith Grasmug, Denis Podalydès, Blanche Gardin and Vincent Dedienne.

After having its World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Bloody Oranges shows the undeniable vitality of French independent cinema and we can't thank enough the French distributor The Jokers for allowing very talented directors like Jean-Christophe Meurisse to let their feverish imagination run free. Bloody Oranges is one of his satirical comedies that takes a real look at our society today in which an elderly couple tries to pay off their debts by entering a dance contest in order to win a car (an SUV) and sell it, a politician trying to keep a case quiet gets caught up in a serial killer, and a young, beautiful teenage girl is confronted by the same serial killer but turns the tables on her.

By featuring many characters, Bloody Oranges is however not built as a sketch film even if it takes the form of one at times. It would be more judicious to find in this film slices of life like in Short Cuts (1993) by Robert Altman. The characters will thus intersect and what starts as a comedy progressively turns into a horrific thriller and a bloody revenge film without censorship of political correctness. It would also be interesting to compare the tone of the film with that of the duo Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern and the fact that the excellent comedian and humorist Blanche Gardin is in a supporting role does not seem to be a simple coincidence.

The very punchy dialogues of the film show a real freedom of tone granted to the writer and director Jean-Christophe Meurisse. While French cinema seems too often confined to political correctness, the film tackles politics, capitalism, adolescence and the indebtedness of aging characters as if to reveal the many irregularities of our current system. In the same way, by approaching three different generations of people living in France, Bloody Oranges hits the nail on the head and allows itself a few perfectly timed remarks on the power of money, public image and the legal framework for rape victims. 

While the cult comedy C'est arrivé près de chez vous (man bites dog) (1992) has established itself as a reference of a cinema mixing perfectly comedy and pure horror, Bloody Oranges appears to be its worthy heir. The director Jean-Christophe Meurisse delivers here a film that manages to make us laugh but also to slide towards the visceral horror film while remaining realistic. The young actress Lilith Grasmug proves to be an undeniable revelation of this film and her outspoken character gives the film all its vitality and makes us immediately immerse ourselves in this film. She gives it some of its best scenes, including one that will remain in our collective memories for a long time.  

Certainly Bloody Oranges is not for all audiences and is intended for an informed public because some scenes are particularly violent and bleeding. For a French film, it is rather rare so to underline. We come out of the film with the desire to see it again and especially to better understand its workings which make it a film destined to become cult and to remain for a long time as one of the best surprises of this year.

Bloody Oranges
Directed by Jean-Christophe Meurisse
Produced by Marine Bergère, Romain Daubeach, Alice Girard
Written by Jean-Christophe Meurisse, Amélie Philippe, Yohann Gloaguen
Starring Alexandre Steiger, Christophe Paou, Lilith Grasmug, Denis Podalydès, Blanche Gardin, Vincent Dedienne, Lorella Cravotta, Olivier Saladin, Fred Blin, Céline Fuhrer, Florence Janas, Anthony Paliotti Patrice Laffont, Pascal Sangla
Cinematography : Javier Ruiz-Gomez
Edited by Flora Volpelière
Production companies : Rectangle Productions, Mamma Roman, Les chiens de Navarre, The Jokers
Distributed by The Jokers (France)
Release date : November 17, 2021 (France)
Running time : 102 minutes

Seen on September 29, 2021 (Fantastic fest virtual screening room)

Mulder's Mark: