(director/writer: Valérie Massadian; cinematographers: Robin Fresson, Mel Massadian; editor: Valérie Massadian; music: Violent Femmes; cast: Severine Jonckeere (Milla), Luc Chessel(Leo), Ethan Jonckeere (Ethan); Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sophie Erbs; Grasshopper Films; 2017-France-in French with English subtitles)
“It has small ambitions, but comes across as an engaging film that deserves our attention.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A delicate French drama by writer-director Valérie Massadian (“Nana”) revolving around the lost love life of the bottle-blonde teen Milla (Severine Jonckeere). It’s set in the economically depressed coastal region of the industrial northern France. The 17-year-old Milla (Severine Jonckeere) is in a seemingly good relationship with the long-haired teenager Leo (Luc Chessel).
They find a way to live together by the English Channel in the spring by breaking into an abandoned bare house and sleeping on the floor in their sleeping bags. Even though it’s a broken-down dreary place they create a warm living spot, as they survive by stealing food and enjoy themselves by singing in the wind. Leo eventually gets work on a fishing boat. Milla in the film’s second part gets pregnant and the carefree romance changes. Leo is now gone and motherhood has her working as a hotel maid and raising with much love her child Ethan (Ethan Jonckeere), as time quickly flies by and we can see the sadness in her eyes about what’s missing from her life.
The observant drama in a quiet way makes powerful statements about teen romances, motherhood and of the difficulty for a single mom in a cold world to find a good job. The acting is natural and convincing. It has small ambitions, but comes across as an engaging film that deserves our attention for the way it keeps it real without reaching out for false dramatic uplifts to the survival story.The music of choice is the Violent Femmes’ “Add It Up,” which is heard several times and is the group song Milla identifies with. The lyrical film played at Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival and won the Special Jury Prize.
REVIEWED ON 9/27/2018 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/