Angoulême 2023- day 5: Sébastien Lifshitz, The air of the sea makes you free and Bungalow
Movie of the day: Mrs. Hofmann by Sebastien Lifshitz
It all starts with an appointment with a doctor. Sylvie Hofmann, executive nurse in an oncology department of a Bouches du Rhône hospital and heroine – in every sense of the word – of this documentary has lost her hearing. Suspicion of stroke, overwork, stress… This inaugural scene sets the tone for what is to follow: Sylvie’s eventful last straight line before her retirement, after 40 years of good and loyal service in the same establishment. For a year, Sébastien Lifshitz followed her in her professional and personal life. And once again, the director ofteenage girls achieves a tour de force by mixing long and short focal length, collective and individual. By drawing up an inventory of a public hospital while telling the story of this unfiltered, whole woman, a reed that bends but never breaks despite her mother’s repeated cancers, the one that ultimately threatens her breasts and ovaries, the worries his companion’s heart problems and his infernal pace at the office where the COVID has only aggravated an already chaotic situation (hours that never end, crying lack of staff, etc.). And the film is in his image: never desperate, with a strong faith in the generations to come (great scenes with his team of young nurses until the last day in the form of fireworks) which simply lacks a remuneration commensurate with their commitment. Lifshitz captures, as usual without voice-over commentary, these scenes of groups and exchanges with her husband or her mother, always at a good distance, in the right movement, and mixes them with moments when Sylvie Hofmann confides off camera and expresses all that she conceals in his service: her doubts, her anxieties, this stress that gnaws at her… Incredibly strong and yet so fragile. All in just 1h44 after a new virtuoso editing job. Deeply human and powerfully political, undoubtedly the most beautiful film of this 2023 edition of Angoulême.
Released in April 2024
The duo of the day: Youssouf Abi-Ayad and Kenza Fortas for The sea air sets you free
On the one hand Kenza Fortas, revealed by Scheherazade (who had triumphed at Angoulême in 2018 with too many trophies, including the Valois for best film) with a César for best female hope at stake who has since proven, with North ferry, that she was not just the actress of a single role. On the other, Youssouf Abi-Ayad, revealed on stage by Christophe Honoré in The Idols And The Sky of Nantes who is making his debut on the big screen here, immediately establishing himself as a favorite for the best actor award. Both form the central duo of The sea air sets you free – the most beautiful title of the films in competition -, the new Nadir Moknèche. Since his first feature, Madame Osmane’s Harem in 2000, the director of Paloma Delight And Lola Pater has never ceased to twist the clichés on the representation on the big screen of the characters of North African origin on one side and the other of the Mediterranean. And he continues this quest with The air of the sea makes free around a marriage arranged by their respective parents between Saïd – a young man concealing his homosexuality from his family who, although not fooled by it, refuses to admit it – and Haja, broken after a love affair toxic with a drug dealer who got him into legal trouble. Based on this young man at the crossroads delaying the moment when he will have to choose between living his sexuality and his family and this anything but submissive heroine, Moknèche signs a film as committed as it is engaging on self-acceptance, on the inevitability of an emancipation that is nonetheless anything but obvious in both of them. But its subtlety also owes a lot to the nuanced interpretation of its duo of young actors, particularly at ease in expressing the contradictions of their characters, never locked into archetypes and constantly on the move, despite this what it costs them.
In theaters October 4
Comedy of the day: Bungalow by Lawrence Côté-Collins
The purchase of a new apartment or a house to renovate is revealed in 99.9% of cases as a source of repeated hassle, the incredible aspect of which constitutes an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the scriptwriters. And it is precisely nourished by her own painful experiences and those of those close to her that Quebecer Lawrence Côté-Collins imagined this Bungalow where a young couple about to become parents think they have found their cozy little nest without suspecting that the signing of this house in the suburbs of Montreal marks first and foremost the beginning of their descent into hell. The shadow of the Coen brothersArizona Junior and of Fargo hangs over this well shaken black comedy where we cross paths with sinister-looking mobsters as well as the Quebec equivalent of Valérie Damidot. And this over situations where the director has chosen the weapon of burlesque as the central piece of her satire against the excesses of a consumer society which pushes to want always more beautiful, always bigger, always more gleaming before the pressure that it induces does not cause the most fragile and the least armed to implode mid-flight in their quest for a postcard happiness that is necessarily inaccessible. A film as joyful as it is gritty.