Un Homme Perdu or A Lostman is a 2007 Lebanese film, written and directed by Danielle Arbid, in which actions are mostly in Jordan and also Lebanon.
This movie has a certain natural touch, it’s intimate, it’s raw, and I think, Danielle used some special ingredients which all added up to forming an incredibly real feature.
The first ingredient is The hand-held camera movement. What better way could you think of, to bring your audience closer to your protagonist? None. The hand-held camera gives you the impression of walking next to the character, as if you’re seeing the actions with your own eyes. Thus bringing you closer and making you more intimate with the story.
The second ingredient is The silence. The director used the silence to interpret the lead actor’s character, his “état d’âme”, all there is for us to hear is roaring ambience and few times a melody like when Thomas and Foad arrive to Jordan. This silence kind of puts you in same frame as the protagonist, you do not only see the scene in the same way as he does, you also hear what he hears. Even the use of a soundtrack is somewhat rare in this movie, even in the sexual scene where you’d think there might be a melody, to ignite the sensation. But all you hear is the sound of their voices and their fast breathing. Danielle is making you forget about your surroundings, involuntarily. You just give in and join the characters in their adventure. It just feels, sounds and seems too real to be fictional.
The third ingredient is the natural lighting technique. Most of this movie scenes, used practical lighting. For example, when Thomas was going through Foad’s stuff, while using only a flashlight. And I could write about all the scenes in this movie to give an example about practical light Danielle used. In my personal opinion, this only adds to the reality of the movie. It gives you the feeling of being, yourself, present in the scene.
The forth ingredient is my personal favorite, the acting. You simply can not miss the outstanding performances of the two main characters. Melvil Poupad as Thomas, and Alexander Siddig as Fouad. The two well-known actors excelled in their roles, making you get attached to them to a point where you can literally feel what they are feeling, their adventures, their tears, their laughter become yours. My favorite scene is where Fouad, hugs Takla Chamoun – yet another amazing actress – in the back of the bathrooms, you could see him carrying a burden on his shoulder, holding so much sorrow in his heart, it’s just so beautifully performed I teared up. Though they are doing a shameful act – as the movie would show – you find yourself sympathizing with them, and hoping they wouldn’t get caught.
Fifth Ingredient is the script and the character build up. When we first saw Foad, he was always silent, not responding, as if his mind is somewhere else, carrying a burden yet to be discovered. His attitude towards women is seen through every time he meets one; when he came across a lady in the taxi, he felt her up but couldn’t perform sexually, all he needed was a hug. The second encounter with women was at a bar. He was looking at them with empty eyes like he lost the pleasure for all of this, and encounter after encounter the same reaction, only when he got drunk, we saw him sleep with a woman for the first time and all the time he kept begging for affection “ hug me “ , “ kiss me “ , after this scene, it is somehow revealed, or concluded that, Foad has some mysterious woman back home, whom he long for and miss.
The point of these examples is to show you how Danielle, broke her characters and changed them so smoothly, you wouldn’t even notice what she did, you just find yourself with the same character yet different attitudes. Another example, is Thomas’ character change up. Now Thomas is the talkative curious kind. Danielle decided to show us that by how Thomas was seen for the first time; sneaking up on Foad, giving a hint on his character. The moment Thomas met Foad, he started asking so many questions, intrigued by his personal life details – you’d expect something like that of Thomas, since he’s a journalist. He travels the world, to photograph women while sleeping with them, he picks up any woman he sees. You’d find him looking for bars, to pick the girl for the night. The presence of Foad in Thomas’ life had an influence on the journalist, he kind of changed his morals. By the end of the movie, Thomas would be walking through a street full of prostitutes and you would expect of him to pick a girl to sleep with and take photos of her while doing so! But he didn’t! he walked away! On the other hand, Thomas’ presence in Foad’s life had no effect at all, he was seen running away from his family in the first scene, and he ends up doing the same thing by the end of the movie.
It really fascinates me, how real and honest this movie feels. All these ingredients added up, and lead to an emotional, fascinating and heart warming experience.