Stranger by the Lake (2013), released earlier this year. It doesn’t always work: the sex is perfunctory, but despite only the bare bones of emotional attachment, director Zlotowski holds your gaze, revealing a strange and unfettered sophistication to this murky affair.
Altogether more successful are the scenes inside the station itself, and there's real currency in that it's filmed at an actual plant in Austria that was built but never operated. As if to emphasise this, the scenes in Gary's rural community and in the open air are filmed in 35mm, while the inside the plant is crisper HD and played beneath an eerie score by Rob that ratchets up the tension. In Gary's plant, employees have to keep their radiation levels down in order not to be laid off. One manager warns, "You might lose your job, but you'll keep your health." To Gary, though, desperate for work, fabricating his records comes instinctively. At one point he rescues Toni, now a romantic foil, in an accident at the plant, exposing himself to dangerous radiation levels in the process.
However, it's as stupid as it is brave ("Why did you take your gloves off?" one colleague asks) as we come to understand these contracted workers haven't nearly the training that this kind of work entails; hired instead as cheap, willing labour for a difficult task. Zlotowski doesn't go for a political theme - this is not The China Syndrome (1979) - so her directorial command feels a little slack here, especially when viewed in the knowledge of France's nuclear industry, which provides 80% of the country's energy needs. Still, the shadow of the Fukushima disaster surely weighs heavily - as the levels go up, Grand Central is heading for a meltdown, emotional and radioactive.
Ed Frankl | @Ed_Frankl