This new terse French drama is from Bruno Dumont (Hadewijch, L'Humanite)
who likes to push the envelope a bit as this oddly arresting (especially through some sharp widescreen cinematography) and contemplative somewhat pretentious fare demonstrates. At least through some of its imagery that may tend to linger in the minds of some, perhaps confounded, art house patrons.
The setting of Hors Satan (translating as Outside Satan and in French with English subtitles) is a French coastal enclave with some woodland environs also as an anonymous bedraggled vagrant (David Dewaele) begins to share his commune-like existence with a confused (also unidentified) teenager (Alexandra Lematre).
There are some references that audiences may catch onto in an askew metaphysical, almost plotless tale that can be alarming, touching, and perhaps therapeutic. Maybe like how the drifter is for his new companion as they seem to enjoy the naturalistic idylls before a major calamity causes him to go another route. Other than varying, notable encounters with a catatonic young girl, a guard and a backpacker.
The minimalist approach seems to be nourishing for Dewaele whose character is rewarded by going door to door and a less vague Lematre whose character is affected by a barely seen stepfather and desiring for more than she gets. For many it may be hard to get much insight into someone seemingly pious on the surface, but hard to condone the ends that justify his response (or retaliation) to certain situations.
That being said, Hors Satan comes off as a tricky, nicely calibrated example of cinematic paradox that has the ability to stir the mind from the combined efforts of a visage muted Dewaele and a vulnerable Lematre under the sensitive emotional fulcrum strikingly presented by its director. While the ambiguity and aimlessness is there, a stark, roughhewn realism may provide the kind of payoff for those most drawn to its religious undertow.