Cannes Film Festival 2021: “Les intranquilles”, the couple put to the test of illness

The uncompromising **

by Joachim Lafosse

Belgian film, 1 h 58

From the first scene of the film, something is wrong. A diffuse feeling of unease creeps into the idyllic image of this couple bathing in the clear waters of the Mediterranean. An “uneasiness” that we perceive in Leïla when her husband Damien plunges into the waves from his boat only to reappear a few hours later. False alarm. And yet, there is something out of order in the behavior of Damien, a tormented artist about to complete a series of paintings for an exhibition.

He gets up in the middle of the night to repair a Solex, goes to the market in the early morning, gets busy in the kitchen to receive his gallery owner, and explodes when he discovers that he has forgotten the ice creams for dessert. The actor Damien Bonnard is impressive in this first part where he interprets his character in the middle of a manic phase, when the frenzy gradually gives way to disinhibition and then to incoherence, in the face of an entourage helpless in the face of the inevitable outcome of the crisis. . Because Damien is bipolar and refuses to take his drugs on the pretext that they interfere with his creativity. Then the phases of depression follow the phases of excitement, under the worried gaze of his wife and son.

A subject rarely shown on screen so bluntly

With his new film, the last to compete in Cannes on Friday July 16, Belgian Joachim Lafosse signs a poignant family drama around a subject rarely shown so bluntly on screen. But as a careful explorer of the intimacy of couples, the director is less interested in the disease itself than in the way in which it will gradually destroy the bonds that united this family, despite the love still intact. The gaze, first focused on Damien, switches in a second part to Leïla (Leïla Bekhti) and Amine (Gabriel Merz Chammah).

Despite a move and the hope of a new start, the cycle begins again, chaining violence, arguments, and wearing out Leïla’s last treasures of confidence and patience. While their son is more and more appalled by this unstable father. In the sobriety of the staging, the gradual inversion of the point of view, the intensity of the play of the two main actors, we find the qualities of filmmaker of Joachim Lafosse already appreciated in The couple’s economy or To lose reason. A modesty and a delicacy which, despite the fear, takes us alongside his characters and their sufferings.


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