In the shadow of the girls **
by Etienne Comar
French film, 1 h 46
As soon as he enters the detention center, it is for Luc Jardon, renowned lyrical singer, the pileup between two worlds. “It’s like the airport, without the duty free”, he says kindly sardonically to the guards. He must leave them his tuning fork in which they see a potential weapon.
Forty-two women and one hundred and forty men live within the walls of this prison. Luc has agreed to lead a singing workshop with inmates. Volunteered to participate Jeanine and Marzena who have always loved to sing, Carole, the rebel who dreams of being a pop star on her release, Jess knocked out with psychotropic drugs to forget the boredom of her jail and Noor whose comic flashes do not spare no one. Adds Catherine, unanimously hated by the other participants, present only to hasten her exit.
Alex Lutz impresses again
Director of Django with Reda Kateb, Étienne Comar remains in the musical field for his second feature with “the desire to make a film that shows how much singing can be a liberation, he explains. And what better than a prison to express the metaphor”. In this, his film follows the familiar paths of the group from which individualities emerge, while its ranks close around the project of a public performance in a hostile context, as in The Singing Club by Peter Cattaneo or the recent A triumph with Kad Merad.
After playing an aging tennis player in 5and set, Alex Lutz impresses again as a clumsy and tormented opera star who tries to escape from something through this parenthesis in prison. The actor gives her a subtle mix of insurance linked to her status and embarrassment due to ignorance of the codes of these women from modest backgrounds, interpreted by professional actresses (Agnès Jaoui, Veerle Baetens and Hafsia Herzi) or not (including Fatima Berriah , astoundingly energetic and rough spontaneity). First isolated in close-ups, the inmates form a group through larger frames, in an almost documentary style. If the film shows the openness and the redemption that gain, through this experience, the inmates but also Luc, it escapes for the most part from an too easy happy ending.