Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

The Fifth Season: Artsy Wicker Man doesn't catch fire

The Belfast Film Festival's commitment to showing notable new cinema continued last night with a screening of a film that has been spoken of in some quarters as Belgium's answer to The Wicker Man.

But beyond a towering effigy that is torched as an offering to nature, the comparison is wishful thinking.

The plot concerns a farming village in the Ardennes, where the crops have failed, the animals have stopped producing and the people stand around in contrived poses like they're starring in an emo rock video.

There's a sound concept at the film's core, but the execution lets it down. Surprisingly, for a work made by the former documentary film-makers Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth, The Fifth Season is persistently and maddeningly artsy.

The surreal imagery, the abstract camera angles and the shrill soundtrack only succeed in pulling the viewer out of the action. And then there's the glacial pace.

There is an intelligent, compelling and horrifying film to be made about the prospect of nature abandoning man. Sadly, The Fifth Season isn't it.

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