A socio-political satire and biting allegory about the contemporary state of the European Union, Neil Beloufa's Occidental is ripe with political, racial, and sexual tension, as it uses its single-setting to deliver an astute and balanced deconstruction of life in France under the European Union. Filmed in an aesthetic which harkens back to 70s Fassbinder, with its muted colors and hazy ambiance, Occidental's single location setting feels artificial by-design, a stage which represents France itself through the physical means allotted to the filmmakers, with each character being a symbolic representation of the various schisms taking place in modern European society. The staging and use of mise-en-scene is intricate in design yet simple in presentation, with Beloufa's camera being a dynamic presence in this confined space, serving as surrogate to the viewer for the director, a noticeable presence yet one that only lets us see what it wants us to see, taking the viewer along its basic narrative which lives to serve its larger allegory. From the manager's omnipresent fears and absurd paranoia centered around the "strangers" or "Italians" which arrive at the hotel, to the arch-typical blonde bimbo whose dangerous naivety provides the perfect juxtaposition to her boss, Beloufa's Occidental paints an elaborate yet grounded tapestry of the tensions taking place in the European union, and the various collective forces, each fighting for their perceived share of the what they believe is allotted to them by the nation state. Darkly funny throughout its brisk 70 minute running time, Occidental's treatment of various nationalities - the British, the Italians, etc. is blunt, simplistic, and senseless, as the film intentionally or not makes profound statements about nationalities and how they do nothing more than collectivize people as individuals by something as trivial as their origins or place of birth. The film's treatment, one wrapped in absurdity, danger, paranoia, and confusion from all those involved, pronounces the absurdity of contemporary society fueled by fear of the unknown, being a film which often avoids making assertive political statements about the government structures or current state of the EU, but instead one that focuses on the need for change in some capacity.
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