Directed by Derek Deroche/ Reviewed by Aindrila Chatterjee
Narrative features are those where the characters and storyline unfold stories/mysteries to make it real in front of audiences. Narrative cinema is usually contrasted with the films which present information on a subject/character. In a gist, it can be said that, narrative films are those which tells us a story. But that does not mean that it has no specific genre or criteria. The first narrative film was “The Great Train Robbery” which was released in 1903. Though it is a silent film, still it gained huge success during that period. “Chauffeur” is an art-house narrative feature that explores desire, work, identity, and millennial life with a combination of cringe comedy, absurdism, and minimalism.
The film “Chauffeur” is a narrative one that tells us the story of a cab driver employed to drive a private or a hired car. Guillaume is a ride-share cab driver in San Francisco. He is suffering from homesick, which he explains to his passengers. He narrates his story with his passengers saying that cannot return to France, his home country as he has realized that he is afraid of being a vagabond. Amy, a young woman, the lead female character of this story experiences a quarter-life crisis. She is one of the passengers of Guillaume. Due to her personal crisis, she started an affair with Guillaume. Later, her boyfriend Mike also develops a quarter-life crisis of his own. All three must have to confront their fears and secrets. They had to figure out what they want. Meanwhile, their mundane routines, critical professional life, and fraught relationships are supplemented by absurd, nightmarish characters and scenarios. Here the director also portrays a mother who is bed ridden who has lost her unconditional love. The other characters include a psychopathic boss who makes absurd activities and behaves unusually with his employees. There is a mysterious man inside the house of Guillaume who gives unexpected visits. The three characters – Guillaume, Amy, and Mike experiences various ups and downs in their life along with unstable relationships. But the twist comes when Guillaume says that he is not a French, but American. The two guys met accidentally and then the situation takes a whole new turn. Though the scene is a silent one, yet the silence reveals the mental state of the two.
Derek De Roche is an Editor, Director, Writer, and small-scale Producer. An independent filmmaker from the San Francisco Bay Area. His interest in filmmaking was from the teenager time period, but after college, he wanted to carry forward his passion. His debut feature film, “Chauffeur,” an art-house comedy/drama was shot on a micro-budget with a minimal crew that was released in 2019 by Global Genesis Group. He is working in various roles on other projects too, in the San Francisco filmmaking collective Scary Cow Productions. His signature style as a filmmaker is subtle but it has a bizarre blend of comedy and suspense, a deadpan and minimalist approach are just add on with it. His other works are The Foreign Film (2016) and Guillaume; or, The Chauffeur (2016).
In the film “Chauffeur” the style and production methods include long takes, static shots, nonprofessional actors coming from various backgrounds like partly on aesthetics, partly on the necessity for ease and convenience. As it is a low-budget film that doesn’t merely try to appear high-budget, but it seeks to explore the possibilities which opened up by constraints of budget, schedule, and experience. Through this story, the director portrays the various shades of relationships both in the personal and professional life of a person. Though it is a lengthy one, yet there is a message of love, care, and affection, the bond of relationships which one will understand after watching it.