A chamber drama in which even the chamber itself is on the verge of collapse, Raoul Peck’s “Murder in Pacot” offers little scope for healing as it surveys the geographical and psychological wreckage wrought by Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake. A dramatic companion piece to “Fatal Assistance,” Peck’s 2013 doc on the same subject, this allegorical story of two couples warring across divisions of class and turf in Port-au-Prince’s post-quake wasteland positively trembles with the weight of its own symbolism; in his first narrative feature since 2000’s “Lumumba,” former Haitian culture minister Peck remains a political filmmaker of stern conviction. Overlong and far from subtle, “Pacot” is nonetheless engrossing enough to entice topically-minded arthouse distributors, and should make considerable waves in Francophone territories.
Peck claims Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Theorem” as the guiding inspiration for his original screenplay, co-written with veteran scribe Pascal Bonitzer (who also worked on “Lumumba”) and Haitian novelist Lyonel Trouillot. The surface resemblance is clear — both films detail the effect of a sexually magnetic drifter on a fractiously fragmented household — though the social context of the invasion and ensuing fallout in “Pacot” is a world away from Pasolini’s Euro-bourgeoisie satire. Instead, Peck’s narrative complicates notions of outsider identity by bringing race and nationality into the stew, while still identifying subtler conflicts within Haiti’s indigenous community. via Variety