L'Humanite (1999) from Tuna

For those who enjoy something unique, rather than the same old formula film, this is one for your consideration. Pharaon De Winter is a policeman (actually chief investigator) in a small French town, and has been called to a murder/rape scene. The victim is an 11 year old girl.

The director lets us know immediately that this will not be an ordinary film. Pharaon is so shaken from what he finds, that he is nearly unable to function, then we are shown what he say in a nice long closeup. We see a between the legs shot of the victim with leg bruises, a bloody, hairless vagina, and ants crawling on the corpse. The image is every bit as disturbing as it sounds.

Pharaon lives at home with his mother, and is close to two people, Joseph, and his girlfriend Domino. Pharaon is quiet, kind, and sort of bland, while Joseph is far more outgoing and aggressive. Domino likes sex, and is close to Pharaon. The film runs for well over 2 hours, and crawls through the plot line -- Pharoan and his department try to discover who killed the little girl, and the three friends hang out together. Along the way, the factory that Domino works in goes on strike. Without revealing whodunit, that is pretty much the plot.


We see Domino (Severine Caneele) from nearly every angle while having sex with Joseph, and we see a near gynecological shot when she offers herself to Pharaon.
Sounds like the film would put you to sleep, but, despite the slow pace, it kept me on the edge of my seat. Writer/Director Bruno Dumont says, in an in-depth interview, that he doesn't tell everything about the characters in the film, because he wants his audience to become involved with the characters, and try to figure things out actively. This, I think, is what held my interest. Pharaon is an interesting character who would like to take the entire world's burdens on his shoulders, but is not able. He is smart enough to see how bad things are, but not strong enough to fix them.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen, no features

The film is beautifully shot, and the sex scenes are very convincing, down to loins slapping together.

Obviously, this is not a film for everyone, and is not a great companion to beer and popcorn, but is a well made character based drama with very interesting characters.

The Critics Vote

  • Consensus: No consensus, but two and a half stars was the average. Ebert 3.5/4, Apollo 55, BBC 2/5

  • The film swept Cannes with Grand Jury prize, best actor and best actress.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.0, near-classic status, similar to Ebert's 3.5 stars. Apollo users 59/100. These scores are consistent with the critical consensus.
  • With their dollars ... The film peaked at 4 screens in its US release, and total gross was $113,495
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B-.

Return to the Movie House home page