Savage State (L'état sauvage) is a western drama/thriller centering around a family of French settlers during the American Civil War. Forced to abandon their Missouri home and flee to Paris, a troubled former mercenary aids them on their journey. Written and directed by David Perrault, Savage State is a film that begins with an interesting idea, and unfortunately, as a package — it fails to deliver.
The premise.The concept is fantastic and had the potential to touch on some cool themes and ideas. The story is one we haven’t seen before — French settlers in the American South during the civil war. Westerns tend to be a male-dominated genre. This film is very much female-centered, which is another aspect that would attract many viewers. It sounds fantastic on paper and has a good logline, but the resulting film does not take advantage of its fascinating setting, premise, or potential for compelling themes. Savage State is supposed to be a slow-burn thriller, but there were no thrills.
The characters.The acting is, at times, wooden and far too serious. Many characters act like they are the coolest character there. It’s off-putting —every one of the characters is a caricature. They explore no real themes and remain two-dimensional throughout. Savage State lacks aspects of a serious drama, and the actors seemed unable to carry their weight.
The look.The cinematography is very okay most of the time. It’s certainly not ugly, but it’s not particularly good-looking either. Much of the camera movements are unmotivated and awkward — it draws negative attention to itself. However, there were some visually interesting high-up shots sprinkled throughout the film. The costumes seem period-accurate and fit each character well. The scene-stealers were the big beautiful ballroom dresses. Additionally, the set design was appropriate, and the home furnishings were well-decorated. It showed the charms of the old setting with a bit of romanticism.
Savage State (L'état sauvage) has so many little flaws that it ends up severely hindering the film.