An odd film noir, but one that’s steeped in romance, mystery and fantasy, Daguerrotype tantalizes and bewitches as it plays out gradually to an astonishing reveal. The film, originally named “Le Secret De La Chambre Noir”, was released in Japan and France before opening this week on VOD on nearly all major platforms. If you like a good drama that’s different and compelling much like an episode of Twilight Zone, try this one on a cold dark night with a friend.
Not doing too well in life, especially in the job department, Jean (Tahar Rahim) answers an ad by Stephane (Olivier Gourmet) a fashion photographer for a helper. While there he notices a beautiful woman in an old fashion dress that’s a century behind the times. At the interview he finds out that she is Stephane’s daughter Marie (Constance Rousseau) and that she models for Stephane.
Stephane then shows Jean his camera, a huge daguerreotype that takes full sized metallic prints. The job as his assistant won’t be an easy one handling the large slides containing the special negative. He also will have to handle the caustic developing solution that processes the photos. But, badly in need of money to pay for rent, Jean takes the position.
On his first day there he notices Stephane’s strange props that allow models to be still for hours. Not a comfortable situation for Marie, Jean starts to get concerned. So begins a dark story filled with apparitions, violence and deception. Director and writer Kiyoshi Kurosawa spools out his film at a slow pace following the introduction of his main characters. Much like his daguerreotype we find each role impressionable and intriguing.
The acting in the film is extremely good. I especially liked the performance of Tahar Rahim as Jean the young man who gets introduced to a mystery with surprising twists. He takes his character to the edge as Jean starts to unravel secrets hidden in the pictures.
As Stephane the famous photographer who broods over the loss of his wife decades ago, Olivier Gourmet provides a very mind bending character. He thinks he can bring his wife back through the pictures he makes of his daughter. Dressing Marie in her mother’s clothing he puts her through an ordeal keeping her motionless for hours while the daguerreotype gets the right exposure. Determined to make his dream come true, he starts to see visions of his wife Denise (Valérie Sibilia) that start to destroy his sanity.
Daguerrotype has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains violence and language. The film spools out in French with English subtitles. Be cautious when deciding to allow immature persons see the film as it does have some scenes that are inappropriate for youngsters. Now available on VOD.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A good mystery with a smooth twist.
Additional Film Information
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Constance Rousseau, Olivier Gourmet, Mathieu Amalric, Malik Zidi
Directed and written by: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 2 hrs. 10 min.
Release Date: on VOD November 7, 2017
Released in: French with English subtitles