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Sunday, May 24, 2009

SIFF Sighting: GOD'S OFFICES (drama; France)


The life of those who run family planning centers in the United States can sometimes be fraught with danger because of the strong opposing beliefs to their practices. Either that's not the case in France, or the filmmaker failed to communicate that.

In fact, GOD'S OFFICES has no beginning or end. Viewers are simply placed in the middle of a days' work as counselors are speaking with folks who for some reason want to terminate their pregnancies or begin a plan of contraception. The series of vignettes includes teenagers with religious parents, a religious boyfriend who wants to verify that his girlfriend (who had formerly been sexually abused) is a virgin, a woman having an affair with a violent man and of course, a prostitute.

Presented in a documentary-like fashion, the conversations with these characters could have been very colorful, but instead play very dry against the backdrop of their drab offices. Also disappointing was the limited interaction between workers. We only see them come together as a team two or three times, and when they do, their talks are just as boring as the others.

The fatal flaw here is that no emotion is conjured up by watching all of these situations play out. At no time did I feel empathy for the patients, or even angry with the patients. The matter-of-fact manner in which they presented the information unfortunately translated to a mediocre result—one that is well worth skipping.

GOD'S OFFICES screened at the 35th Annual Seattle International Film Festival.


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