Cannes 2021: Behind closed doors of the emergencies of an angry France

The divide**

by Catherine Corsini

French film, 1 h 38

It’s a movie of anger. The one who seized the yellow vests during the winter of 2018-2019 exasperated at not being sufficiently considered; also that of the old couple formed by Raf (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) and Julie (Marina Foïs) who speak to each other but have not listened to each other for a long time; that of patients in emergency services suffering the interminable wait for a degraded public service. The three are going to telescope in a large Parisian hospital, a Saturday evening of demonstration violently repressed by the police, where Catherine Corsini takes us in immersion in this cleverly conducted social comedy presented Friday evening in competition in Cannes.

Raphaëlle, a designer by trade, lands there after breaking her elbow while pursuing Julie in the street. Yann (Pio Marmaï), a truck driver worn out by a life of insecurity, is treated there after receiving a grenade in the leg on the Champs-Élysées. Between the “bobo” of the left and the working class, placed on nearby stretchers, the meeting will spark. The class struggle revisited in the time of Macronism. Rhetoric gives way to insult, each obsessed with their own concerns. Raphaëlle, high on painkillers, hopes to recover Julie who has come to her bedside, while Yann only thinks of bringing the truck back to her boss so as not to lose her job.

A perilous but successful genre crossover

These two narrative lines, which give rise to pure moments of comedy thanks in particular to the gentle madness of Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, are superimposed on the daily reality of an emergency department filmed as close as possible to patients and caregivers. The constantly moving camera takes us into the corridors, treatment boxes, caregivers’ rooms and offers us an overview of all the ailments that affect these services: shortage of beds, staff, sometimes drugs, violent patients and exasperation. general. From this oppressive camera in which the film keeps us for 1 hour 30 minutes, emerges the figure of Kim (Aïssatou Diallo Sagna), patient and devoted nurse who reasons, reassures, caresses and prevents the pot from exploding.

This perilous cross between social comedy and quasi-documentary film might not have worked. Yet the alchemy is undoubtedly achieved thanks to a well-written screenplay, the talent of its actors and the skillful camera of Jeanne Lapoirie. Without claiming to make a political or committed film, Catherine Corsini nevertheless manages with The divide to capture tremendously the moods of a country at a time in its history.


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