Vanhee shows us the power of engaging conversation, charged, by an equally engaging topic: a crime career.
Sverre Sand
Sand is a film critic based in Oslo. he also works for le Monde diplomatique.
Published date: October 12, 2017
Country: België, 2016, 0:59

When seven prisoners, all guilty of murder, talk to director Sarah Vanhee about the plot for a crime film, one would expect their own experiences to fuel the discussions. Like many documentarists exposing the fates of people in various unfortunate positions (like homeless people, junkies, religious minorities), Vanhee also has the more or less therapeutic function of the social worker – if nothing else by being somebody the portrayed can talk to. A frequently debated dilemma is the extent to which the interviewee is exploited by his confiding in the one person who – at last – “sees him for who he is”. The price to pay for the immediate therapeutic value of this confidence may extend his expectations: being eternally exposed in a vulnerable situation, not necessarily adhering to future preferences regarding private life made public.

No fear in this case. Vanhee avoids this problem completely by blurring out all participants, including herself. We get a fair share of jeans, naturally, we see the occasional backside of an ear, a tattooed arm here, a wristwatch there, but no blatant giveaway as to the owner’s identity. For certain readers this might sound like a dry and monotonous experience, but it works just fine, and Vanhee shows us the power of engaging conversation, charged, of course, by an equally engaging topic: a crime career – including imprisonment and the challenge of rehabilitation thereafter – as imagined by people with first hand …

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