LFF 2022: The Blaze – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 25 minutes, Director – Quentin Reynaud

A father (André Dussollier) and son (Alex Lutz) try to escape a rapidly spreading wildfire.

Often in disaster films it’s the grand-scale levels of – as the genre name might imply – disaster that have some form of effect. Whether it be joy at the levels of ridiculousness on display or tension from the threat and destruction shown the response is often from the intensity of the disaster. In the case of The Blaze the most effective elements are the quieter visual details which come into play to show the destruction creeping in beyond just the increasingly spreading wildfire taking over the south of France. One of the most impactful of these is the simple image of smoke wafting into a car, displaying that even where the characters have continuously been told to stay isn’t quite safe – although it is somewhat frustrating the amount of times in the opening stages where they leave the vehicle despite having been told countless times not to.

Simon (Alex Lutz) is trapped in an endless queue of traffic with his elderly father Joseph (André Dussollier), hopefully making their way to a safe place away from the destruction of their home. However, it’s not long until the fire captures up and the two are trapped in the woods, surrounded by flames and smoke. While the film might sometimes feel somewhat limited by the fact that the central figures can’t leave the area they’re trapped in due to the fire there’s still a good deal intrigue – if not always tension – during these sequences.

It’s elements such as this which bring about the thought that this might have worked a bit better as a short film, or something focusing more on the pair in the fire – as we leave that environment things begin to feel chaptered and divided in nature. The film admits its flaws in certain moments, mostly that it can’t stay in one place the whole time, but the ending of certain scenes almost feel as if they’re being spent wondering where to go next. While they may lead somewhere that continues your interest in the events and how they might pan out there’s still a somewhat staggered and, again, chaptered feeling to things.

Yet, there’s still something about the father-son relationship on display which further engages and connects the viewer to the piece. When added to the aforementioned visual elements – including a flaming warthog early on, marking one of the most impactful shots of the film – there’s a good deal of content to make for a more held-back and interesting style of disaster film. While it might not contain great deals of tension there’s enough engagement within the narrative to help the 85 minute run-time pass by relatively well, making for a varied, but generally successful, type of disaster film.

While there might not be great deals of tension, largely due to the chaptered nature and occasional restriction as to where to go, there’s plenty of interest to be found in The Blaze both in terms of the effective subtle visuals and the central relationship which keeps you engaged throughout.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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