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MOVIES (LFF 2022): The Blaze - Review

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The best revelation out of this is that the French can do mid disaster movies about as well as Americans can. It hits all the tropes, embracing the eco-thriller get-up of it all and keeps things refreshingly grounded - taking us into the last of a village's residents, a man and his son - who flee a village on the run from an unstoppable inferno. The true horror of what they're facing becomes evident as they go - burning deer run into their car, and eventually, burning people. It's a chilling, uncompromising watch that packs a lot into its runtime.

It's just a shame most of it is all tropes; but that's not to say it does the tropes well. The road to redemption arc is handled as well as it could have been in a film like this for its main character; Alex Lutz's Simon, helping his elderly father Joseph, played by André Dussollier to escape the village. The father son/parental bond is put under the microscope as Joseph recounts his old stories; with the pair maximising their knowledge of the local roads of southern France in order to escape.

Director Quentin Reynaud does an amazing job at capturing the sheer panic of a sudden evacuation, packing up and leaving home and hoping that your home is not destroyed so that you have something to return to. It's pretty realistic! I'm not sure I really bought the ending when it goes into its third act but the first act and the set-up there is the film at its best when it's in the unknown, and it already feels long at 85 minutes. When it's on form it's timely and claustrophobic, but I'm so glad Athena kept its sustained pace for the whole runtime.

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