Savage State

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AVAILABLE JAN 8 – JAN 28 // $12.00

Missouri, 1863. As Americans fight out their civil war around them, a family of French colonists turns to mercenary gunslinger Victor (Kevin Janssens) to lead them across the country to a safe port and escape to Paris. But the road to salvation is long, arduous, and fraught with peril, and tensions run high between meek patriarch Edmond, his pious wife Madeleine, their three daughters, freed-slave maid Layla, and their armed escorts. Will they make it to safety before the war catches up with them? What is the significance of Victor’s appearance in the nightmares of defiant young Esther (a haunting Alice Isaaz)? Will the three daughters find the marriages their parents seek for them? And who is the mysterious black-clad woman pursuing the family (Kate Moran), with a cadre of masked outlaws in tow?

David Perrault’s sophomore feature examines the Western through a European lens, exploring a highly specific period in a country on the verge of change. Eschewing conventional Civil War narratives, Perrault instead tells a story of characters seeking to avoid becoming collateral damage in a skirmish that isn’t theirs to fight. Cultures clash frequently, with results by turn tragic, romantic, violent, and even comedic. Perrault drapes his tale of emancipation and yearning in an expressive, often surreal atmosphere, driven by gliding cameras, hypnotic score, and the odd detour into voodoo. Through committed performances from a largely female cast, SAVAGE STATE amplifies its characters’ personal struggles to the scale of the stark Appalachian landscapes surrounding them – and in so doing, creates a Western of uncommon lyricism. 119 minutes. Engish/French/Italian.