(BY ALI NADERZAD) Today, Joana Hadjithomas’ and Khalil Joreige’s Je Veux Voir stirred the crowd and asserted itself through sheer originality. There isn’t much in the way of background as to why Catherine Deneuve is in Beirut, just that ‘[she] wants to see’ the war zones, or “je veux voir” (I want to see) as she she simply replies when prodded. Seeing means traveling to the most hard-hit parts of Lebanon to witness the aftermath of the recent war, the pockmarked buildings and caved-in brick walls. The filmmakers arrange it, pairing Deneuve with Lebanese actor Rabih Mroué and filming the two as they drive through the Lebanese countryside in search of Mroué’s birthplace. You’re left to imagine the million reasons for this strange arrangement until Mroué mentions having watched Bunuel’s 1967 Belle de Jour (in which Deneuve starred) many times and actually learning some of the dialogue by heart. As images of war-torn Lebanon fill the screen, something emerges between the two that leaves you curious for more. Je Veux Voir is at times surreal, like Catherine Deneuve walking in the ruins of a village laid waste by the recent war with Israel. There obviously is more, here, than nascent emotions between a man and a woman but the film’s intentions are a bit hazy. Mroué becomes distant when he goes to look for his grandmother’s old house, acting troubled, diffident even. He eventually stands before a pile of rubble and ignores Deneuve when she calls out to him. Deneuve’s stated intention to see Lebanon may give the film its title but Je veux voir plays out more like a ride with a handsome stranger in a dramatic, exotic land. But in the end, the film’s originality and the filmmakers’ strong voice shine through enough to sweep aside such reservations. There is much beauty in Je Veux Voir, a fascinating film and SC favorite.