Classical music meets soccer in 'Last Hammer Blow' at Venice

Wed Sep 3, 2014 12:28pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

VENICE (Reuters) - A French film that improbably links soccer and classical music in a tale of a sports-mad teenage boy living in poverty with his dying mother and who meets his estranged conductor father for the first time charmed the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday.

Alix Delaporte's "Le Dernier Coup de Marteau" (The Last Hammer Blow) relies heavily on body language rather than dialogue to communicate its bittersweet coming-of-age story.

"What you will see in the film is there is not much dialogue, people do not talk much, characters do not talk much," Delaporte told a news conference. "I've tried to replace words with movements."

The film is one of 20 being shown in competition for the Golden Lion trophy to be awarded on Saturday.

The second feature film by Delaporte, who got her start in documentaries, avoids slipping into sentimentality while making its unlikely plot seem plausible, largely on the strength of understated, nuanced performances by its three principles.

"I have always liked contrasts and it was like a challenge to me to put these two elements together," Delaporte said. "I haven't told myself I want to make a movie about football and classical music."

Each of the actors speaks, in effect, a different body language - soccer playing for the 13-year-old Victor, the dance-style movements of conducting for his father, and the crippled movements of a dying woman for the mother.

Romain Paul plays Victor, whose abilities as a soccer player have attracted talent scouts. Delaporte said she chose him for the role because unlike most actors his age, he could be silent.   Continued...

Cast member Romain Paul poses during the photo call for the movie "Le dernier coup de marteau" at the 71st Venice Film Festival September 3, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile