Baxter (1989)

France, 1989
82m
35mm film, colour
mono, French
Reviewed at The EOFFTV Review

A French fantasy film directed by Jérôme Boivin.

Plot Summary

Madame Deville is given a bull-terrier, Baxter, by her daughter but is terrified of the dog. And with good cause, as Baxter is more intelligent than most and is plotting her demise…

Credits

Crew
Directed by: Jérôme Boivin
Alicéléo, Christian Bourgois Productions, Gérard Mital Productions, ISSA, MK2 Productions, Partner’s Productions
Executive Producer: Daniel Deschamps
Producers: Patrick Godeau, Ariel Zeitoun
Script: Jacques Audiard, Jérôme Boivin
Novel: Ken Greenhall
Director of Photography: Yves Angelo
Editor: Marie-Josée Audiard
Music by: Marc Hillman, Patrick Roffé
Sound Engineer: François Waledisch
Costume Supervisor: Anne David
Production Designer: Dominique Maleret

Cast
Lise Delamare (Madame Deville)
Jean Mercure (Monsieur Cuzzo)
Jacques Spiesser (Michel Ferrer)
Catherine Ferran (Florence Morel)
Jean-Paul Roussillon (Joseph Barsky)
Sabrina Leurquin (Noelle)
Daniel Rialet (Jean)
Evelyne Didi (Marie Cuzzo)
Rémy Carpentier (Roger Morel)
Jany Gastaldi (Anne Ferrer)
François Driancourt (Charles)
Ève Ziberlin (Veronique)
Malcom Scrannage (Jean-Jean)
Léa Gabriele (Eva Braun)
Maxime Leroux (voice of Baxter)

Alternative Titles

Bell mir das Lied vom Tod – West German title

Press

The Hollywood Reporter vol.314 no.50 (7 November 1990)
Although it occasionally hits a comic note, this mostly disturbing film leaves a bitter aftertaste and image. [A]n intriguing idea that is actually well-executed by Boivin, but is deceiving in its attempt to capture our interest. We are falsely led to believe that we are in store for a comedy, based on the premise of hearing the title dog’s thoughts throughout. This deception is further perpetuated by the light-hearted black humor during the film’s opening scenes. As with magic, there is nothing wrong with deception, or misdirection in movies. Yet it is difficult to reverse gears once you get started. One must do just that to remain within Baxter’s grasp, a not-so-pleasant place to be. […] The film’s one message, naturally uttered by the dog, is “never be obedient.” Confusing as that is, it is the clearest point made and makes one wonder about the purpose of this bleak film. To be sure, “Baxter” is memorable, but it’s not a pleasant memory.” – from a review by Jeff Mennell

The Hollywood Reporter vol.316 no.29 (8 March 1991) pp.20, 56
“A dark, nihilstic allegory of humankind, “Baxter” is likely to chew up some initial boxoffice among the art house crowd, particularly appealing to those whose take on human nature is a bit on the ultra-rancid side. […] Provocative and unrelentingly grim, “Baxter” is a stern and sobering reminder that this world is all too often driven by beings whose psychological and makeup are as horrible and dangerous as a pit bull’s mauling bite. Boivin’s vise-like directorial grip on this chilly story, styled as a horror of personality film, is consistently gripping and entrancing, Yves Angelo’s dark-shaded, subjective camera work and Mark Hillman and Patrick Roffe’s harsh and nasty score add to this film’s cautionary power.” – from a review by Duane Byrge

References

Periodicals
Boxoffice vol.127 no.2 (1 February 1991) p.141 – note (Sneak previews)
Cinefantastique vol.21 no.5 (April 1991) p.54 – review (by Dan Persons)
Film Comment vol.29 no.5 (September/October 1993) pp.29-33 – illustrated article (Team spirit by Chris Chang)
Film Comment vol.43 no.4 (July/August 2007) p.74 – note (Recommended)
The Hollywood Reporter vol.314 no.50 (7 November 1990) pp.5, 14 – credits, review (by Jeff Mennell)
The Hollywood Reporter vol.315 no.4 (13 November 1990) pp.S-1, S-2 – illustrated article (Sarasota attracts French with a mix of business and talent by Janet Fine)
The Hollywood Reporter vol.316 no.29 (8 March 1991) pp.20, 56 – credits, review (by Duane Byrge)
Positif no.337 (March 1989) p.76 – illustrated review (De A à Z by P.L.T.)
Premiere no.142 (January 1989) p.16 – illustrated review
La Revue du Cinéma/Image et Son no.445 (January 1989) p.28 – credits, review
Screen International no.675 (22 October 1988) pp.291, 294 – illustrated article (France: French sellers arrive in force by William Fisher)
Screen International no.703 (6 May 1989) pp.275-276, 282 – article (Cannes 1989: Sold on the French)
Variety vol.332 no.5 (24 August 1988) pp.64, 76 – credits (French film production Summer 1988)
Variety 5 April 1989 p.24 – review
Variety vol.341 no.1 (15 October 1990) pp.M70, M74, M75, M79, M82, M86, M90 – listing (MIFED: 1990-91 U.S. film releases: Independent distributors)

Books
French Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Pulp Fiction by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier p.21
Horror and Science Fiction Films IV by Donald C. Willis p.35