O'Brother plays for high stakes with Our Children
by Aurore Engelen
30/05/2012 - Today sees the release of A perdre la raison [trailer, film focus] in Belgian cinemas, the new film by Joachim Lafosse (see the video interview), who is still basking in the glory of his screening in Cannes in the 'Un certain regard' section, which impressed both public and critics.
Methodically, intensely and above all discreetly, Lafosse follows Muriel, lover and mother, in her destruction, year after year, as she sinks down and disappears into a banal and at the same time monstrous daily life. Worn out by daily housework, consumed by promiscuity, suffocated by her husband, who distances himself little by little, and by her father-in-law, who gets closer and closer to the immediate family, she loses her grip on life, retreats into silence and submission.
Working with a dramatic construction built around the day-to-day and which avoids sensationalism, Emilie Dequenne delivers a masterful performance, which reaches its peak in two out-of-range sequences on the telephone. Alongside her are Tahar Rahim, who confirms all the expectations placed on him in a difficult role, and Niels Arestrup, who is perfect in this role of smothering father, somewhere between ogre and black hole.
While the film stakes its claim through its accuracy, its strength and its bravery, it's still no less of a headache in terms of release and promotion. O'Brother, the sister company of Versus (the producer), is playing for high stakes with 19 copies, of which 3 in Flanders, and 3 in Brussels, which is rare for a Belgian arthouse film.
The difficulty rests on the expectations created by the background of the film, which is based on a terrifying incident that is still fresh in the Belgians' memories. Everyone in the country is aware of the Geneviève Lhermitte case, so it was real balancing act, while the press echoes complaints from the victims' family.
The award for Best Actress given to Emilie Dequenne comes at the right time to place art back at the heart of the matter. This strategic unveiling in the middle of the festival should benefit from the good exposure the film has received in the media and the several previews organised to give the film's team a chance to meet the public should help to generate a positive word of mouth, relegating the incident to the background and allowing the universality of the concept come to the fore.
(Translated from French)