Cinematographer Jacques Baguenier beautifully captures the power and beauty of the working class in Loïc Hobi’s excellent short THE PIER MAN, now on Dekkoo. While there have been many working-class films - from 1954's ON THE WATERFRONT to BILLY ELLIOT in 2000 - THE PIER MAN finds a lonely and unique niche. If Walt Whitman were writing screenplays, this would be his.
Hubert Girard plays Théo, a man with great longing and little hope. His world is a gray blurb, beautifully pierced by a searchlight's intermittent light, revealing his soul. When he meets Giuseppe (Youssouf Abi-Ayad), recruiting men for his ship, there is no more solid ground. There are raucous games to prove the candidate can take life on the boat, including wearing an
opaque plastic bag over your head while the crew batters you. Drink fuels the men's brutal dances, which have energy that matches their hazing.
While the visuals are captivating, the text rhapsodizes the isolation and loneliness of life at sea. The combination is terrific. The ending devastates. The score by James Opie is perfect.
Hobi, who also wrote the screenplay, elicits formidable, aggressive performances from his large ensemble. THE PIER MAN is one film I wish were longer.
GOLDEN is another short which is elegant, sweet, and delightful. Writer/director Kai Stänicke creates a brave new world in which those who are different have a unique hue. It is a three-minute gem.