Director Albert Dupontel has created a monster. A half-crazed, laugh-inducing, moderately blood-stained monster of a movie that will possess you for a near hour and a half. Weird and completely wonderful, 9 Month Stretch is a film with no limits and no pause button. It’s total subtitled genius.
After a drunken New Year’s Eve Party a judge finds herself pregnant by a notorious thief, recently charged with assault and named by the media as ‘the eye-gobbler’. Wrongly accused however, he finds his fate in the hands of the very same woman, who can either keep the secret of her baby’s father or set free a criminal, who in this case is innocent.
9 Month Stretch is hilariously made. It’s important though to remember that it’s not a film made for humour. The comedy comes in almost as an accident of the real story, the crossing of two very different people as their lives look set to collapse. The judge faces losing her job and her self-maintained isolation. The thief has a lengthy sentence in jail threatening his future, not to mention a gruesome reputation. In a film situated within the courts of law, freedom is awaiting a verdict.
Sandrine Kiberlain is marvellous as Ariane Felder, the in-denial pregnant judge. With her career just about to take off, the sudden revelation of a baby six months after that night turns her into a Molotov cocktail of emotion – a lethal combination of ambition, fierce determination and indecision. The male lead (played by the director), criminal Bob Nolan, injects a lighter touch into the film. Desperate to rid himself of the title ‘the eye-gobbler’ and sporting a hidden soft side, Nolan deftly manoeuvres Felder’s emotional outbursts, be they mad-with-rage or self-despairing.
Violence is undeniably a core feature, which is likely the reason for its ‘black-comedy’ status amongst critics. While there are occasional images to squirm in your seat at, the comic style compensates for the graphic sequences. These include some possessed kitchen utensils, a grinder, and every heavy object within a two-metre radius of one unlucky character. Cleverly envisaged, they’re hilariously funny yet shocking, and evoke a gasp-chuckle. By the end, some audience members may feel as guilty as criminals themselves.
If you’re still in doubt over whether you’re the type of person who can handle subtitles, watch the trailer. The French trailer mind, which comes with no subtitles at all. You may not be able to understand a word being said, but that doesn’t matter. If you find yourself laughing (which you inevitably will) then this is the next film you need to see.