banner image

:: Les Convoyeurs Attendent (the Carriers Are Waiting

This Belgian film uses French language and subtitles in a story about the problems of a dysfunctional family whose central dominant figure is the father. The Carriers Are Waiting is a thinking film; arthouse and dry comedy. Benoit Poelvoorde plays the seemingly crazy father Roger Closset who desires to mould the family to his personal philosophy. The film is seen through the eyes of 8 year old Luise (Morgane Simon), as she follows journalist father, homing pigeon keeping neighbour (Philippe Grand’Henry), and older brother and girlfriend. We see through her odd reflections of the characters that surround her.

We follow her home as she collects a cosmetic advertisement and prepares for baton twirling. We learn of her neighbour Felix’s attention to champion pigeon Napoleon. We view the stories her father writes such as a traffic accident, a homeless person being taken to jail and a golf ball hail storm that destroyed a farmers crop. We stand waiting behind a closed door while her brother has sex. These scenes are understandings of reality not naive observations.
While the title is a homing pigeon term common to Belgium, the bird-keeping hobby occupied little of the storyline, related to weather patterns the term here implies that the characters are waiting for better weather conditions. Closset, wife, son and daughter live in an industrial area on the outskirts of town. They are poor but work and entertain themselves. On the eve months awaiting the millennium father Closset conspires for 15-year-old son Michel to attempt a world record break in order to win the family a car. In order to break the American door opening championship Michel must open the door 40000 times in 24 hours. An overweight coach is employed to shave seconds off technique time and push the unwilling competitor to the unachievable goal.

The father as the dominant figure moves the storyline and controls the children. Michel could not refuse to attempt a world record, and Luise was displayed on tabletop, both parading on his direction. Mariage’s choice of unknown actors for the young Luise, lanky Michel and his likewise teen girlfriend Jocelyene (played by Lisa Lacroix) gave genuine feelings of uncomfortable children directed and on display. Closset’s interaction with the submissive wife and weak neighbour proves his power over the immediate adult characters, while outside during carnival the townsfolk respect his drunken charm. His advances to an unwilling lady are seen but ignored by those other than the daughter. His acknowledgment of the daughter’s opinion signals an opening of character, which redeems father. Closset is given an understanding and love if only by the character’s familiarity.

Comedy is found through the situation of reality that we find the characters. As a journalist the father listens to the police band of the radio to find information on his stories. Family life where the communal room is the kitchen is often interrupted by emergency announcements of obscure news stories. Michel has followed the father in media and presents a weekly segment on local radio about mistakes in television. These references signal Benoit Mariage’s time as a press photographer, and as one accustomed with the way ways of the media.

Benoit Mariage’s background in documentary making formalises the subject in reality by placing characters central in the frame similar to amateur home video, not left, right or using the rule of thirds. To give the framing intention the film is stripped to black and white. The colouring combined with art direction to suit the characters social situation gave the film age, although it is set in modern day. Speech is minimal and not fast so the movie is easy to follow. Watch out for monumental family occasions, girl’s dress-lines and Elvis.

Screening at Cinema Como