Review: The Escape
by Fabien Lemercier
- Gemma Arterton shines with a dark glow in a feminist film by Dominic Savage that delicately mixes harsh realism with an ephemeral atmosphere
She is a housewife like so many others. She wears makeup and studies herself carefully in the mirror before grabbing her handbag. She watches her husband set off for work every morning before taking their young children to school. She dashes off to the supermarket before coming home to do a bit of housework and tidy up of the chaos left in the house and garden of their large house in the suburbs of London. She is a woman who is beloved by her husband, who is not a bad guy, but who is no longer in tune with her desires. She is an unhappy woman, who begins to choke and desperately looks for a way out, to lift the veil over who she really is. This is the universal character and crux of the plot of the endearing The Escape [+see also:
film profile] by Dominic Savage, screened in the Playtime section at the 9th Les Arcs European Film Festival, following its world premiere in Toronto.
"You are a wonderful mother, a wonderful wife. You’re beautiful." By the time Mark (Dominic Cooper) realises just how far his wife has sunk into depression, it's already too late. Because Tara (Gemma Arterton) has already undergone a solitary crisis of anxiety about her children’s nursery, weeping silently in bed, before lashing out in bouts of unprecedented aggression at her children Teddy and Florrie (who are about three and five years old). A fly-on-the-wall of her own existence, she looks at her own reflection while mothers unload shopping into their cars in the supermarket car park. "It's just a phase, it'll pass." This is real life! What can you do?" says her mother, who is summoned to the rescue. In an attempt to get a breath of fresh air in London, Tara gets carried away with a book containing a reproduction of The Lady and the Unicorn, an early 16th century tapestry that retraces the in-depth journey of a woman with the motto: "my one desire." But her dreams of resuming her art studies fizzle out and suddenly, one morning, Tara ditches her family and sets off for Paris. What will she do with this new freedom? How will she confront her acute sense of guilt? Will she find out who she really is?
Filmed as an almost stolen recording of the slightest inflections of the wounded soul of its protagonist, with a very mobile camera, The Escape stands out as an undeniably personal film. Dominic Savagemanages to sensitively integrate himself into a story in the tradition of English social realism with a formal, quasi-aerial and impressionist approach, both through its staging and thanks to the work of Laurie Rose, as director of photography, and Anthony John and Alexandra Harwood , in charge of the film's music. A marriage between weight and lightness that operates with charm and which also owes a lot to Gemma Arterton, who charismatically carries this eminently feminist feature film without false modesty, and whose daily and existentialist life will resonate with everyone in the audience.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.