Catch the Wind: "I have decided"
by Fabien Lemercier
- TORONTO 2017: An in-depth look into the heart of offshoring by Gaël Morel through the filter of a worker played magnificently by Sandrine Bonnaire
“I’m not sure that you will get whatever it is you want by going there.” These are the perplexed words of a HR executive who listens to Edith’s interest in a proposal to transfer to Morocco instead of taking her generous severance pay. “I would love it!” insists the 45-year old French worker in a textile factory that is soon to shut shop as the company she has worked at for a long time is following the logic of offshoring. That is the starting point for Catch the Wind [+see also:
film profile] by Gaël Morel that premieres internationally today in the Special Presentations section at the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival. Upending the usual paradigm of economic migration, the French filmmaker (especially known for Full Speed and Après lui [+see also:
film profile], featured in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 1996 and 2007 respectively) succeeds in making an enlightening social film, a sensitive work on cultural differences and common humanity, as well as a moving portrait of a woman to whom Sandrine Bonnaire lends her talent and expressive face.
A widow living in an isolated house in the French countryside, Edith has nothing really keeping her in France. Communicating with her only son (Ilian Bergala) who has left for Paris is very complicated and she is disillusioned by social struggles (“I do not believe your fine words, unity makes strength, your trade-union rubbish”). Without a job, her life would lose even more purpose and she nurtures the dream of a new life, refusing to be influenced by the worries of Nadia (Lubna Azabal), her only real friend at the factory who is of Moroccan origin: “It is definitely not better than here. And Islam? You are a woman. And the work is tough.” So Edith crosses the Strait of Gibraltar and settles in Tangier in a small guesthouse recommended by Nadia and run by Mina and Ali, a divorced woman and her son (Mouna Fettou and Kamal El Amri). In a city dotted with construction sites and dangerous for she who is quickly nicknamed “the French woman”, Edith discovers the exhausting reality of work and local customs, and embarks on unpleasant misadventures that lead to severe disillusionment, nonetheless looking to save face as the situation worsens progressively with her budding friendship with Mina and Ali…
Firmly anchored around its protagonist and delving into the slightest shifts in her emotions by exploring her personality, Catch the Wind is a touching film that progresses with sincerity and without narrative complications (based on a script written by the filmmaker together with writer Rachid O.) in terms of subject. This, however, through distilling information, does not prevent it from creating a credible picture of a blue collar existence and of daily life in Morocco (for example with the amendment of family law that facilitates divorces or the free buses chartered by Islamist organisations…). But this venture through the looking glass on economic migration is above all else, an occasion to admire a great actress in action.
(Translated from French)
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