DVD Review: Beyond the Walls

Beyond the Walls DVDSTUDIO: Strand Releasing | DIRECTOR: David Lambert | CAST: Matila Malliarakis, Guillaume Gouix, Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin, David Salles
DVD RELEASE DATE: 9/3/2013 | PRICE: DVD $24.99
BONUSES: none
SPECS: NR | 98 min. | Foreign language drama romance | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | French with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Beyond the Walls, the directorial debut of the Belgian cinematographer David Lambert, is a 2012 romantic drama set in the contemporary Brussels music scene that transcends the sexuality of its protagonists.

Beyond the Walls scene

Matila Malliarakis (l.) and Guillaume Gouix go at it in Beyond the Walls.

Paolo (Matila Malliarakis) is a young pianist living with a woman, Anka (Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin), but still “figuring things out.” After Paolo has a drunken dalliance with an Albanian bass player, Ilir (Guillaume Gouix), Anka has had enough and throws him out. He then shows up at Ilir’s door, although the two hardly know each other. This standard rom-com set-up seems to be working as Paolo’s puppy-dog charms win over the reluctant bassist. Then, Ilir leaves for a concert date—with  Paolo locked in a male chastity belt—and the film takes a decidedly dark turn.

Lambert extracts excellent performances from his two leads and they have the guts to play their roles as multi-faceted and even unpleasant. Malliarakis’ Paolo is reckless and unfocused, almost human flotsam. His heady flight to freedom leads to sexual degradation in a desperate bid for security. As Ilir, Gouix seems a stabilizing force until a drug bust reveals him as dangerous and fatalistic.

Lambert’s visuals are good if sometimes murky and he does well with a low budget, especially when packing tension into scenes in a stark prison visiting room. Despite some press blurbs such as “sexy” and “charming,” Beyond the Walls is often raw and gut-wrenching. And the better for it.

 

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About David

David Leopold is an actor, writer and videographer who would take a Sherpa ride up a Tibetan mountain to see an Edwige Feuillère movie.