Madame Hofmann: profoundly human and powerfully political (critic)

Madame Hofmann: profoundly human and powerfully political (critic)

Sébastien Lifshitz tells the story of the public hospital through the portrait of a nurse on the verge of retirement. A new documentary summit from the director of Adolescentes.

It all starts with an appointment with a doctor. Sylvie Hofmann, nurse manager in an oncological department of a Bouches du Rhône hospital and heroine – in every sense of the word – of this documentary has lost her hearing. Suspected stroke, overwork, stress… This opening scene sets the tone for what will follow: Sylvie's final hectic stretch before her retirement, at the end of 40 years of good and loyal service in the same establishment.

Sébastien Lifshitz followed her for a year. And once again, the director ofTeenage girls achieves a tour de force by mixing long and short focal lengths, collective and individual. By taking stock of a public hospital while recounting this woman without filter, a reed that bends but never breaks despite her mother's repeated cancers, the one that threatens her in the long term, the heart problems of her companion and her hellish pace at work where COVID has only made an already chaotic situation worse.

And the film is in his image: never desperate, with deep faith in the generations to come. Lifshitz captures, as usual without voice-over commentary, these group scenes and exchanges with her husband or her mother always at a good distance and mixes them with moments where Sylvie Hofmann confides off camera and expresses everything that she was at his service: her doubts, her anxieties, this stress that gnaws at her… Incredibly strong and yet so fragile. All in just 1h44 after another virtuoso editing job. Deeply human and powerfully political.

By Sébastien Lifshitz. Documentary. Duration 1h44. Released April 10, 2024

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