by Francois Favart
French film, 1h50
“Hands, too, are smart. » At 19, Naëlle did not understand this. At least not yet. In Companionsa film by François Favrat (The Roll of His Life, Boomerang), Naëlle, camped by Najaa Bensaid, is a young woman passionate about street art, struggling to integrate into working life. She no longer believes in herself and sees no future. During the day, when she is not looking after her little sister, she works on a social integration site in the Bellevue district of Nantes. The day when his site manager, Hélène (Agnès Jaoui), offers him to discover the Compagnons de Nantes, since she is the “mother”,his whole life is turned upside down.
Here she is integrated into the team of a stained glass artist (Pio Marmaï), both surly and tender. A world of a thousand strict codes and rules then opens up to her, where mutual aid and generosity are cardinal values. It teaches a philosophy of work, attendance, punctuality, and it is called by its region of origin. The Compagnons train luxury craftsmen and Naëlle puts both feet in French excellence, in a new life at the antipodes of the previous one.
Within the French excellence
The director succeeds in interfering with likelihood in the world of companionship, a structure of excellence, and in that of a lost youth, abandoned by the Republic, itself indifferent to the daily difficulties of a sensitive neighborhood. For this, he met several Companions in different cities, took on the inhabitants of the Bellevue district for actors and hired real companions in the distribution.
Classic, this learning story never turns to the “happy ending”. If the didacticism of the film is assumed, if it delivers messages of benevolence and values of optimism to demonstrate that it is possible to find one’s way, despite the determinism and the prejudices, it preserves the depth and the character of the film. ‘plot. By exploring the cracks in the characters, he places us closer to these “little hands” that were clumsy at first before becoming extraordinary instruments.