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A contemporary transformation of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' that is daring

A contemporary transformation of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' that is daring
Coralie Rouet and Sébastien Hirel in the film "Metamorphoses." (Monument Releasing)

Writer/director Christophe Honoré adapts Ovid's epic poem "Metamorphoses" into a lyrical and philosophical film of the same title. Honoré sets the events in a contemporary environment, while maintaining the story details of the mythology, a choice that highlights the hedonistic, brutal, often misogynist themes that underpin the antics of the Roman gods. The result is a daring exploration of the inextricable and fluid relationships of sex, gender and power.

After a brief introduction involving a hunter in the woods, a trilogy of tales begins, involving a high school girl, Europe (Amira Akili), who is — somewhat willingly on her part — abducted by a handsome stranger, Jupiter (Sébastien Hirel). He seduces her and then recounts previous exploits, including Io (Coralie Rouet), whom he changes into a cow to protect her from his wife (Mélodie Richard). This encounter turns into a rambling road movie of sorts, as Europe is passed onto Bacchus (Damien Chapelle) and then Orpheus (George Babluani), learning of their escapades along the way.

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Like Alice, Europe goes through the looking glass, never to see the world in the same way again, and like Dorothy, she learns there's no place like home. Honoré has made a challenging, yet compelling film, using classical techniques to delve into a story that's as elemental as it is existential.

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'Metamorphoses'

Not rated

In French with English subtitles

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinelounge at the Montalban, Hollywood

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