This artfully made, borderline-despicable French drama revolves around Leo (Kévin Mischel), a brooding, lonely taxi driver with cheekbones sharp as dressmaker’s shears, a secret talent for musical composition, romantic longings for pretty dancer Amélie (Aurélia Poirier) and the uncontrollable urge to kill women. Whether he actually does that or not isn’t clear at first, since scenes where he murders one woman turn out to be fantasies … or are they?
In a way, this film seems to not care either way because it’s essentially much more interested in Leo and his mental anguish: anguish that is seeded by a former chanteuse mother (Dominique Frot) who beat him when he was little. The whole handsome-tragic-murderer shtick is one we’ve seen before in an assortment of films, from Peeping Tom and Taxi Driver to Kim Ki-duk’s Bad Guy – but at least writer-director Marc Fouchard brings a few offbeat touches that add some fresh texture. For a start, Amélie, Leo’s object of obsession, happens to be deaf which means she can’t hear the music Leo has written and plays in the car, which one customer complains about rudely. But deafness doesn’t stop Amélie from being an expressive, mesmeric dancer, and the bits where she performs are some of the best passages of the film.
Elsewhere, Fouchard’s blurring of the lines between reality and fantasy and fluid editing are genuinely adept and very disturbing, enough to make one look forward to seeing what he does next. Music, as befits a film about a composer and a dancer, is skilfully incorporated into the plot and the bits of music that Leo is supposed to have written (actually composed by Pascal Boudet, AKA Cyesm), are indeed rather lovely, little cycles of repetitious patterns that earworm inside your head, much like the film itself.
• Out of This World is released on 5 December on digital platforms.