Keeper or the stormy transition from adolescence to adulthood
by Muriel Del Don
- LOCARNO 2015: Guillaume Senez’s film, which had its global premiere in the Filmmakers of the present section of this year’s Locarno Film Festival, is stunning and moving
Keeper [+see also:
interview: Guillaume Senez
interview: Kacey Mottet Klein
film profile], the debut feature film of Brussels-born director Guillaume Senez and a Belgian-Swiss-French co-production, paints an unforgiving, intense and violent portrait of adolescence. The film, which had its global premiere in the Cineasti del presente section of this year’s Locarno Film Festival, is surprising and fascinating with its realist and aesthetically sublime approach (and superb cinematography by Denis Jutzeler). Guillaume Senez fearlessly ventures into a world in which everything still seems possible, cruelly beautiful and incredibly complex. The characters may seem weak and foolish, but behind this façade is an incredible need for love, a relentless quest for unconditional love that impels them to make choices that seem absurd, almost mad.
Maxime (played by the great Kacey Mottet Klein) and Mélanie (played by a surprising Galatea Bellugi) are in love and getting to know each other, somewhat clumsily but with great intensity. One day Mélanie finds out that she’s pregnant and Max, after an initial bout of confusion, decides to handle the situation in his own way. They decide to keep the baby, despite being only 15 years old and Mélanie’s mum’s categorical disapproval. The young couple is therefore left to deal with the consequences of their tough and drastic decision. Guillaume Senez skilfully avoids falling into the trap of sentimentalism by adopting a realist approach that is direct and devoid of superfluous embellishment. Keeper is a moving story, that’s for sure, but at no point does it overdo the emotion. What the director is interested in is the “truth” of the here and now, the spontaneity of a piece imbued with the very life force of his actors. Indeed this, the debut feature film of Guillaume Senez, is built on the experiences of the director himself and his actors, in a sort of emotional melting pot enriched by all those involved. The emotions expressed by the main characters are an (in)voluntary reflection of their own emotional baggage and personal lives. Reality seductively blends with fiction in a ongoing quest for spontaneity and authenticity. It’s hard not to think of directors such as Alain Tanner or even the Dardenne brothers and Mike Leigh, who tenaciously aim for a direct form of cinema enriched by a sometimes sublime attention to aesthetic detail themselves. Keeper is not only a film about adolescence, a time of levity tinged with incomprehensible violence, but above all a film about fatherhood or rather the impossibility of becoming a father. Max wants to take up his role, facing up to a situation that leaves him paralysed at first, but he can’t do it. Society forces him to step aside, leaving it up to his mother and his mother alone to make his decisions for him. Keeper is about passion, and the quest for unconditional love despite the difficulties of a reality that is often to harsh to face up to. A moving and violently seductive film.
Keeper is being sold internationally by Be For Films.
(Translated from Italian)