My Name is Hmmm Review

My Name is Hmmm

As I get older I find my tolerance levels decreasing. I can scarcely resist these days, as we inevitably end up just like our parents.

The other day I found myself extolling the virtues of 70’s comedian and Renaissance man Monsieur Farage and his everyman boo to EU shtick.

He can certainly hold a pint of ale like a genuine racist, even if he doesn’t actually take a drink from it.

Unlike that buffoon Ed Miliband who would probably try to pay the landlord for a pint of weak lager shandy in bitcoins, taking a suspicious sip and pulling a funny face for the assembled paparazzi before spilling the remainder on the feet of the nutter in the corner whom the regulars avoid making eye contact with.

I’ve decided I’m going to vote for UKIP when the X Factor live shows start. As a famous man once said, ‘vote for the fascists; eat bacon sandwiches with the socialists’.

It was with this newfound distrust of all things different that I turned up to the wrong door in Soho to watch a French film.

The self-importantly delivered opening credit ‘my name is Hmmm, a film by Agnes Trouble aka Agnes b’ was not a promising start. My intolerant self demanded I walk out in disgust, muttering something about bloody foreigners.

Thankfully my professional journalist half insisted I stay for the duration, after all if I’m going to convince the PR schmoozers that I’m worth allocating a seat for private movie screenings in the name of promoting their films, it might be an idea if I actually, you know, watch them.

Onto fashion designer Agnes b’s directorial debut, which is the story of a family in crisis, rudely interrupted by a road movie.

Celine’s mother works long hours in a café to support her family. Her unemployed father watches TV and drinks beer.

Celine is the day to day parent of her younger brother and sister, taking them to and from school, feeding them and supervising them doing their homework.

When the children are settled she is summoned to her father’s bedroom where he repeatedly abuses her.

Having warned her father not to touch her little sister in her absence, Celine travels with her class on a field trip to an unnamed French beach.

Inevitably she wanders off and comes across an abandoned articulated lorry where she takes shelter. Peter, the Scottish owner of the truck, returns and drives away, oblivious to the new addition to his cargo.

On discovering Celine, or Hmmm as she now prefers to be named, Peter chooses not to return her to the authorities.

Instead they strike an unlikely friendship and embark on a tour of faceless French towns and motorway service stations whilst Hmmm’s hopelessly screwed up family desperately await news as to her whereabouts.

The performance of Lou-Lelia Demerliac as the runaway and abused Celine is astonishingly mature, indicative of a child who has had her innocence stolen from her. Douglas Gordon, a conceptual artist (good grief), is excellent as Hmmm’s accomplice Peter.

Fashion designer Agnes b’s direction is very heavy-handed. Alternate scenes are filmed using contrasting equipment and effects, occasionally sketches and photographs cut the action.

Whilst this makes the film beautiful and always interesting to look at it does little to advance the narrative. We find out frustratingly little of the drifting Peter and the film’s ending does not sit comfortably.

Towards the end I was beginning to suspect this was a deliberate ploy, to deceive the audience into forgetting the lack of any real plot or character development by focussing on a pot plant, a window or a toilet wall.

Scenes where Peter and Celine stumble across a kabuki play in a forest are laughably pointless and irrelevant. The cynical would say that my name is Hmmm is less of a film and more of an intellectual justification for an upcoming Autumnal collection.

Not that I would normally care, except when you consider the heavy subject matter the fashion designer Agnes b is taking on. A towering performance from a debutant child in a provocative story deserves a hell of a lot more in the way of a script. So join me, ‘s anti-EU correspondent in pledging to control UK borders to prevent pointlessly pretentious French films masquerading as arthouse entering the UK workplace and taking over theatres in your community at the expense of hardworking British films.

Frank Gardiner

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Dates ‘n stuff

October 2014