My Name is Hmmm… - Film Review
The wheels come off in fashion designer Agnes B's French road trip drama
Agnès Trouble (aka Agnès B) is famous for designing clothes. Her first stumbling effort as a film director won’t change that. It follows the sad story of eleven-year-old Celine (Lou-Lelia Demerliac). Her mother (arthouse darling Sylvie Testud) works all hours to support three children and her lazy unemployed husband. Celine is so traumatised by her plight at the hands of her abusive father (an over-acting masterclass from Jacques Bonnaffe) that when she takes the opportunity to go on the run while on a school trip she can’t tell people her name. “Je m’appelle Hmmm,” she says when asked.
Celine hides in the cab of Scottish lorry driver Peter (played by Turner Prize-winning conceptual artist Douglas Gordon) who couldn’t be nicer than her creepy Dad. But because he’s lost his own family in unexplained circumstances he’s in a world of his own and makes no attempt to contact the police or her family. It’s this kind of arty contrivance to manufacture an odd couple road trip that, however well intentioned, makes it difficult to care about these characters and their final destination.
Meanwhile, jarring jump cuts, black and white interludes, freeze frames and dream sequences are thrown at the screen but they only prove it’s not a good idea to invoke the style of the legendary directors of the 1960s nouvelle vague if you can only manage the vague bit. It’s sonically imbalanced too with a soundtrack which flits from Gregorian-style chants, to lush classical via synthesised feedback. Trouble says it’s not a film about incest but the story of a runaway and its consequences. But you’ll feel uneasy watching a film that tackles the very serious topic of child abuse with needless arty flourishes that smack of self-indulgence. Any other fledgling director would be ironing out their stylistic naïveté with a short film, but here Trouble’s failings have no safety net. The slight story simply doesn’t justify a two-hour running time and the film struggles to find a visual language – the reflections of passing clouds in puddles say it all. Agnès B might know how to measure and cut a garment but her film’s dimensions are ill fitting.
Director: Agnes Trouble
Release date: 17 Oct, 2014