Marion Cotillard in Sibling Drama

Cannes longtime Arnaud Desplechin’s latest work in Official Selection shows him revisiting favorite subjects – among them literature, anthropology, Judaism and the effects of acting . These enrich the layered story and lead it down unexpected side streets, but the artist’s primary concern is exploring adult children entangled in a family crisis – the context of love. the sentiments of two of his best and most widely known films, Kings & Queens and A Christmas Tale. Like the later movie, brother and sister concerns a family named Vuillard that suffered the death of a 6-year-old boy, had a patriarch named Abel, and harbored a long-standing case of sibling rivalry. But in this iteration of Vuillards of Roubaix, the clan is neither as widespread nor as good, placing them perhaps more firmly on the ground, though one of them will, in psychedelic frenzy or pure magic, defying gravity. .

As its title suggests, the numbers have nothing to do with a particular relationship in the family: it’s that of two 50-ish men whose hostility is so luxuriant that it turns funny at times. . Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud, both giving their second major performance to the screenwriter (she also had a small role in My sex life… or how I get into an argument), at the top of their game are long estranged Alice and Louis, finding notes of subtle grace in all the self-written and loathsome acts.

brother and sister

Key point

A homage of siblings.

Location: Cannes Film Festival (Competition)

Cast: Marion Cotillard, Melvil Poupaud, Golshifteh Farahani, Patrick Timsit

Manager: Arnaud Desplechin

Writer: Arnaud Desplechin, Julie Peyr

1 hour 50 minutes

Desplechin is a keen observer of human comedy, and a creator of non-judgment zones in which even the worst self-absorption can be seen and accepted. This certainly applies to brother and sister, which draws the two central characters and some of its supporting characters, with a related intensity. In addition to interpersonal motivation, something broader is at work here as well – something, to use the dreaded M word, a metaphor. The film features a grudge that has become its own self-sustaining engine, unjudged by logic or reason. Seeing as characters who find it easier to duplicate conflict than diplomatic engagement and where collateral damage is inevitable, it’s impossible not to think about the geopolitical mess of the world we live in.

Exactly how the worm transformed Alice and her brother is a mystery that is only partially solved at the end of the film. But the price paid to them by her unwavering hatred was obvious from the start. A brief but heart-wrenching opening paragraph creates depth of rift. From there, the script by Desplechin and his frequent screenwriter partner, Julie Peyr, leaps ahead five years, to a series of tense and terrifying accidents on a country road that leave a young woman dead and place male students Abel (Joël Cudennec) and Marie-Louise (Nicolette Picheral) in intensive care, the prognosis is not good.

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They were on their way to the Théâtre du Nord in Lille for their daughter Alice’s opening night in Death, an adaptation of Joyce’s masterpiece of short stories about family, friends, love, and the passage of time – and not coincidentally, a Christmas story. Before learning of her parents’ woes, Alice had second thoughts about going on stage, falling in her face after reading her brother Louis’ new book of poetry. She considers his writing such a personal insult that she and her husband, playwright André Borkman (Francis Leplay), once sued him for defamation.

Louis, meanwhile, must be brought back from the rustic home where he and his wife, Faunia (Golshifteh Farahani), have retreated since the death of their son. It’s such a remote place that their good friend Zwy (Patrick Timsit, in mensch and perfect mode) has to hire a horse to reach them.

With sister and brother both returning to their hometowns and trying to avoid each other, the going and coming had to be staged with something close to exact, at the hospital and at the youngest brother Fidèle’s apartment ( Benjamin Siksou) and his husband, Simon (Alexandre Pavloff). When Zwy told Louis on arrival at the airport, they encountered an image of Alice on a large poster for her theater company, “You’re drawn into a corner, man.” Fed up with being together, brother and sister mostly succeed, but a few unforeseen bumps, figuratively and literally, puncture the story with a melodrama episode in one case and a spectacular showdown in another instance.

Staying close to each other and in the face of their parents’ impending death, Louis and Alice become increasingly unhealthy and self-medicate, each in their own way. One of his first orders in Roubaix was the illegal drug trade; she will then prescribe the psychotherapist with the medications she believes she needs. Her drink of choice for her morning interview with a journalist (Jonathan Mallard) is a gin, but both the wine and the conversation are abandoned as soon as the topic of Louis comes up. To explain her refusal to acknowledge the existence of her poet’s brother, Alice states that she has “always sided with the wounded.” In doing so, she confirmed Louis’ complaints about her “alarming taste for holiness”, sanctity being one of his pet thieves, along with the polluted climate he claimed to be. The reason he stopped teaching.

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Alice’s teenage son, Joseph (Max Baissette de Malgaive), is a gentle soul with an angelic vibe, more likely to belong to the family at large than Alice and André. Alice’s main romantic relationship of late, aside from her aversion to Louis, is with a stranger, Lucia (Cosmina Stratan), a fan who approaches her outside the theater one night, claiming declared her deep admiration. As a penniless Romanian émigré (how could she afford a ticket to the theater?), Lucia is guarded about her own biography but is eager to listen to Alice, and the professional actor salutes her. welcome a private audience. “One day,” she recalls, confessing her feelings to Louis, “hate completely took over me.”

There’s a seamless impetus to the Desplechin path, working with longtime collaborator Irina Lubtchansky (DP on all of his films since 2014, except last year). Lie) and editor Laurence Briaud, wrap and unfold the story’s themes. The movie moves between the two main characters with energy, but it takes time to illuminate, to the extent it does, what makes them tick, for them to disperse and perform. Looking at Joseph, Louis thought of his late son, but that didn’t stop him from cursing his nephew in a public place. His monstrosity is paired with one by Alice, the great person of a crisis targeting a kind and helpful pharmacist (Salif Cissé), recalling a similar outburst from Julianne Moore in Magnolia.

If they sound like children in action, it’s still amazing to hear them begging Abel, as he lay in a hospital bed with his wife in the hallway in a coma, to settle the fight for him. they. The story revolves around and away from the relationship, complete with a surprising leap into fantasy and a no-nonsense Yom Kippur service that Timsit and Louis attend (the Vuillards are Catholic, but Louis uttered a Yiddish word for “blessing” upon seeing Abel, and there are strong hints that Faunia was Jewish). Things turned more favorable towards the late game, especially compared to a strong first half of the year. But there was no predictable moment, and Cotillard (who last worked with Desplechin on Ismael’s Ghosts) and Poupaud (who played the role of Vuillard even more in A Christmas Tale) live up to their role with a fearless spirit.

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However, with a tight focus on the central duo, the story also offers interesting moments for the other characters, with Timsit and Farahani, playing a woman who prides herself on being “pariah’s wife”, creating produce the most vivid impressions. Cudennec too, memorably, transforms his mostly bedridden period into an irresistible portrait of a man determined to live life to the fullest as long as he can – and who cannot accept his role. his role in maintaining the series between his two children. Siksou’s Fidèle is a less obvious character, defined by his neutrality among the warring nations. It is a quality that can be understood as lovable and sympathetic. But it also means he’s nurturing the crazy status quo, accepting rather than questioning the family rift.

Alice and Louis will arrange everything on their own, sort of, in a scene so low that it’s unsettling. Almost narratively unsatisfactory, followed by a heap of minor incidents, all of which could be Desplechin’s way of emphasizing how simple and ordinary the solution is – and how we have come to be. disaster movie addiction.

Where Louis and Alice end up, revealed in tastefully written and beautifully acted scenes, is by far the most conventional aspect of the film. brother and sister, tackles this masterfully told story in a way that feels too neat. Then again, maybe this is what peace is hard to win for these two. We know where they started and can imagine the courage it took to free themselves. Zwy performed at his best when he started riding in a place that had nothing to offer his dear friend: “I was afraid,” he said, “but I am gone.”

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