Yvan Attal explores Les Choses Humaines: did he get the best out of Karine Tuil’s book?  (critical)

Yvan Attal explores Les Choses Humaines: did he get the best out of Karine Tuil’s book? (critical)

The director films his wife Charlotte Gainsbourg, his son Ben Attal and the actress Suzanne Jouannet.

“Hello, judicial police. Are you Alexandre Farel?”

So begins the trailer for Yvan Attal's feature film, Human Thingsworn by his wife Charlotte Gainsbourg and their son Ben Attal (currently starring in Kings of the track). Adapted from the eponymous novel by Karine Tuil, published in 2019, the film questions the contemporary world by dismantling the merciless mechanics of the judicial machine and confronting us with our own fears.

Ben Attal: “I gave up a very beautiful job to do the most beautiful job in the world!”

In this film broadcast this evening on France 2, for the first time in the clear, Alexandre (Ben Attal) is accused of having raped a young woman. Who is this young man and who is this young woman? Is he guilty or is he innocent? Is she a victim or only in a desire for revenge, as the accused claims? Many questions whose answers will become clearer as the story progresses, questioning the very notion of truth. Who is right, who is wrong ?

With a prestigious cast including Charlotte Gainsbourg, Mathieu Kassovitz and Pierre Arditi in the authoritative roles, Human Things undermines individual conscience. Because how can you protect those you love when your own values ​​are at stake?

Revealing in passing the young actress Suzanne Jouannet, Human Things had rather convinced First upon its release in September 2021, even if the adaptation remains less strong than the novel, or another film on a similar subject: The girl with the bracelet, by Stéphane Demoustier. Here is our review.

Interallié and Goncourt Prize for high school students 2019, Karine Tuil brilliantly won the Human Things of the question of consent, which has become central in the wake of the movement #Metoo. 352 pages were not too many to embrace all the complexity of the subject and distill ambiguity into it.

We therefore easily understand what gave Yvan Attal the desire to bring it to the screen and to rediscover the societal terrain after The Brio. His central character (remarkably played by his son Ben) is a well-born boy: son of a TV star journalist and a feminist essayist, he followed brilliant studies in the United States and it was during a brief visit to Paris, during an evening that his life turns upside down when he goes there with the daughter (Suzanne Jouannet, a revelation) of his mother's new companion who accuses him of having raped her there.

Attal's camera shows nothing of what happened and this evening will constitute the common thread of the flashbacks, in a complex quest for truth because, without witnesses, it is the word of one against that of the other. The soul of the book is therefore respected but even in 2h20, the terrain of cinema requires shortcuts (notably secondary characters too reduced to archetypes) until the inevitable final trial, which Attal's staging does not fails to transcend.

In this way of exploring the gray areas of a news item and taking over the closed doors of the court, The Girl with the Bracelet turned out to be more convincing. Those who have read Tuil therefore risk coming away frustrated with an adaptation… which should make others want to read it!

Suzanne Jouannet, the revelation of Human Things

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