By Don Simpson | May 8, 2012
Director: Patric Chiha
Writer: Patric Chiha
Starring: Béatrice Dalle, Isaïe Sultan, Alain Libolt, Raphaël Bouvet, Sylvia Rohrer, Udo Samel, Tatiana Vialle, Bernd Birkhahn, Manuel Marmier, Gisèle Viene, Gloria Pedemonte, Thomas Landbo
Nadia (Béatrice Dalle) is a mathematician. The rhythms and patterns of her life appear to be very orderly and precise, like — ehem — math. Her high heels clack like a metronome as she goes on the same walk in the park with her 17-year-old nephew, Pierre (Isaie Sultan), day after day after day. The repetition is enough to lull one into a hypnotized state, which could explain why Pierre seems so mesmerized by his aunt. Star-struck is more like it. Pierre worships at the altar of Nadia; to Pierre, she is the epitome of cool. But maybe Nadia is cool because she actually listens to Pierre; she cares what he thinks — especially when it comes to his fashion advice. Most importantly, though, Nadia allows Pierre to be himself.
As we spend more time with Nadia, her highly organized facade begins to chip and crack. The near-arrogant confidence of Nadia’s powerful sexual presence is in reality just a cover-up for a fragile, self-conscious woman who drowns her sorrows and pities in alcohol. This is the point of Patric Chiha’s Domain, to reveal that people are not always what they seem and that the perception of order might just be shrouding an underlying chaos. Chiha allows the editing structure of Domain to parallel Nadia’s personality as the rhythmic and repetitive editing structure of the first act becomes increasingly random and disheveled as the narrative progresses.
Pierre becomes more aware of his aunt’s faults as he witnesses Nadia’s drinking habits become increasingly debilitating. As Nadia’s world spirals downward into unbridled alcoholism, Pierre commences his first relationship. The timing on Pierre’s part seems purely coincidental, but we can only assume that Nadia’s jealousy of Pierre’s new friend/lover plunges her even deeper into a crippling stupor of drunkenness.
Why is Nadia so jealous that Pierre is finally blossoming into an adult? Well, Chiha cleverly keeps the exact nature of Nadia and Pierre’s relationship somewhat ambiguous. There is an uncomfortable creep-factor of something being a bit “off” between them; but if their relationship is incestuous, it is never consummated on screen. We are left to assume that Nadia is afraid of being lonely, but there might be more to it than just that.