Writer-director Marc Fouchard takes us on a nightmarish journey through the eyes of a disturbed young man Leo (Kevin Mischel). With chilling, brutal aesthetics and an unsettling character study at its heart Out of the World is an impressive, highly asserting watch.
The painfully shy Leo is working as a Uber driver who makes little conversation with his passengers. He has dreams of being a composer but can’t yet afford to survive on this dream. He is plagued by violent, disturbing visions, something that gets in the way of his relationship with passenger Amélie, a deaf dancer, who he views as a similar creative, cut-off from the world.
Fouchard introduces us to the complex world of Leo – obsessed with music, yet barely able to communicate vocally due to his shyness. Set predominantly at night time, Leo navigates the streets of this unnamed French city listening to and composing music and quietly observing the behaviours of his various – solely female – passengers. An unsettling opening scene showing Leo wiping a bloodied knife, gives an indication of the troubling nature of Leo’s behaviour and that this near-muteness is paired with an unsettling violent streak. Ferocious bloody visions begin to infiltrate Leo’s psyche – often fantasising about brutal ways to dispatch of them with Fouchard cleverly styling it in a manner that blends nightmarish fantasy and brutal realism to the point where it is hard to distinguish between the two.
The night time setting shot by cinematographer Pascal Boudet captures a moody and unsettling location for Leo to inhabit. Paired with bold neon colours from scenes in a nightclub or the inner lighting of the car boot in a kidnap scene, gives the film a stylish noir feel. The sparing use of dialogue in Fouchard’s screenplay also heightens the sense of mystery and intrigue which pulses throughout the feature.
Fouchard crafts a sharp coursing tension throughout the film – in part through the unpredictable and brooding nature of our protagonist. In some senses like a predator stalking his prey; scenes in a supermarket with Leo following a young woman or a grisly kidnap sequence give the film a brutal edge and razor sharp tension.
Out of the World adds a sense of depth to Leo by gradually revealing elements about his past. We see Leo visit his institutionalised mother, a suggestion of his turbulent upbringing; whilst as he begins to grow closer towards Amelie (Aurélia Poirier) he begins to give insight into his troubles noting “There’s always been violence in me. I was born with it. I live with it.” This violence is channelled in complex, fascinating ways by Fouchard and actor Kevin Mischel from moments of brutality to erratic romantic fantasy sequences, including an unusual dream dance sequence with Amelie and an erratic release of pent up tension in a troubling nightclub scene.
Out of the World blends brutal aesthetics with unsettling narrative ground to craft a nightmarish fantasy into our protagonist’s psyche. A complex lead performance from Kevin Mischel ensures this is gripping, whilst Marc Fouchard’s direction is chillingly provocative.