Eva & Leon: The fable of the chance encounter
by Gonzalo Suárez
- The TaoEdu section of the 61st Taormina Film Festival hosted the screening of the feature debut by Émilie Cherpitel the same day as it was released in France
Émilie Cherpitel’s first venture behind the camera, screened in the TaoEdu section of the 61st Taormina Film Festival, is entitled Eva & Leon [+see also:
film profile] and is fraught with risks. The film revolves around the unexpected relationship that blossoms between a woman with her head in the clouds and a boy who runs away from a boarding school. Barely a few minutes into the movie, Léon has already made himself comfortable in Eva’s house. The fast-paced and incredible chain of events that occur during these initial scenes of the film generates a considerable feeling of alienation in the viewer, but the affability and the risk involved in the story manage to hold one’s attention.
Then Cherpitel reveals the keys to and the context of her fable while simultaneously strengthening the bond between these two characters who have been abandoned – one willingly, the other unavoidably. Léon has run away from the centre more than once and wonders why his mother stopped caring about him; meanwhile, Eva lives in a Paris flat and has no awareness of time, and she introduces her new, unknown tenant to his surroundings: her father, a real bookworm; her sister, who churns out children and morals; her lover, John, whom she visits in hotels around Europe; and her neighbour and friend, Simon.
The myriad settings that the action unfolds in (various flats, cafés, mansions, Rome…) systematically present the viewer with a very broad and impeccable spectrum of colours. These fable-like surroundings, brimming with coloured glasses, and references to literature, art and self-enjoyment, are further enhanced by Eva’s (Clotilde Hesme) dazzling smile and the endearing character of Léon (Florian Lemaire); they share experiences as if they were detached from the world and all its heartaches.
However, Émilie Cherpitel does not shy away from anchoring her characters in reality. Money is never a source of worry in the movie – but the need to explain where this boy came from, the obligation to take Léon back to the orphanage and the responsibilities that Eva will have to take on sooner or later in her life certainly are… The screenwriter-director therefore attempts to build a bridge of coherence between what the imagination does not expect and what reality does. This gamble, while commendable for someone taking her first steps into the world of feature films, is perhaps overambitious and ends up leaving the entirety of the story hanging from a thread of plausibility between the viewer’s fingers.
(Translated from Spanish)