Sky: "I just want to be free"
by Fabien Lemercier
- Fabienne Berthaud has crafted a rites-of-passage road movie set in the American desert, where the outstanding Diane Kruger steals the show
After Frankie [+see also:
film profile] (2006) and Lily Sometimes [+see also:
film profile] (popular in the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in 2010), French director Fabienne Berthaud and German actress Diane Kruger seem happy to continue their unusual collaboration on the French film production landscape with Sky [+see also:
film profile], which was unveiled in competition at Toronto and is being released in French theatres today by Haut et Court. This time, the two women have tried their hand at a voyage to the very heart of change, through a cathartic road movie that unfolds in the Mojave Desert in the United States. It portrays an adventure in search of rebirth, where outlines are blurred and the characters are surrounded by people scarred by life - all set against a backdrop of Native American spirituality.
Initially set up as a kind of thriller revolving around the character of Romy, a very attractive woman travelling around on holiday with her husband, Richard (Gilles Lellouche), with whom she has shared her life for the last eight years, resulting in a serious marital crisis (she cannot have children and does not want him to touch her any more, and in response, he gets drunk and becomes very aggressive and vulgar), Sky sees the young woman run away, leaving her partner for dead after an argument in a hotel room gets out of hand. Two angst-ridden days on the road later, she resolves to confess to her crime to the police, but then discovers that her husband is still alive. With this weight off her mind, she leaves him – doing it by the book this time – and randomly heads off towards Las Vegas, where another film entirely gets under way when she bumps into Diego (Norman Reedus, who plays the famous character of Daryl in TV’s The Walking Dead), a ranger who is not exactly sentimental and whom she becomes irrationally infatuated with. After moving into his place in a village in the desert, which is dominated by a rather coarse, "redneck" way of life fuelled by beer, punch-ups and stagnating poverty, the angelic Romy will refocus her efforts on making contact with local Native Americans and giving her life meaning once again, as she comes to understand that the dark side that no one can escape from actually harbours more than just shadow.
Gifted with a remarkable sense of atmosphere and pacing, Fabienne Berthaud succeeds in painting a highly realistic portrait of this woman’s journey – a depiction that patently pays tribute to Cassavetes and Antonioni. Relying on some stunning cinematography that masterfully contrasts the deepest, darkest shadow and the blinding light springing up along the road and emerging from the landscapes, the director manages to pull off her gamble of making a European movie on US soil and applying her totally uninhibited style (which occasionally treads a shaky path without ever running aground) to the now-classic genre of the road movie. The success of the film owes a huge amount to its charismatic and believable lead actress, Diane Kruger, who is clearly honing her acting talents from film to film.
(Translated from French)