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CANNES 2012 Un Certain Regard

Después de Lucia: a cruel world

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- Michel Franco's hard-hitting tale of teen harassment has beaten all other contenders at Cannes' Un Certain Regard.

Después de Lucia: a cruel world

Después de Lucia (lit. "After Lucia") winning the Un Certain Regard Prize at the 65th Cannes Film Festival was a bit of a shock. In his previous film, Mexican director Michel Franco had told the story of a brother and sister forced to act in an underground porn film. Daniel y Ana emanated visceral uneasiness, and so does his latest feature about reactions to teen harassment when an imperfect system is supposed to regulate a cruel world.

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The story starts on the day after a mother's death, with her widower (an imposing Hernan Mendoza) and daughter (a young and innocent Tessa Ia) moving from the coast to the Mexican capital. The young teenager is unfortunate enough to sleep with a boy on the first night, who then publishes a video of the episode on internet. The rumour spreads like wildfire and the girl loses all respectability. Her former friends humiliate her relentlessly, and the moral and physical abuse becomes increasingly worse. The father knows nothing until the day when the situation has so spiralled out of control that it is too late for even the authorities to do anything.

From the film's first sequence (the father picks up a car that has just been repaired, before dumping it in the middle of a crossroads), Michel Franco defines his style. The director is very good at using his camera as a passive witness that poses many more questions than it provides answers. The audience waits for this young girl to rebel against her aggressors. They wait for her imposing, protective father to save his daughter from the nightmare. They demand justice, but the camera refuses to record it, instead continuing to film the apathetic powerlessness of a human being alarmingly breaking down. Even if we sense a tragic ending, Michel Franco however manages to pull off a powerful tour-de-force by switching his victims. The film's final scene, especially in the last shot (an intelligent parallel with the opening sequence), provokes both joy and remorse among the audience, but it definitely hits a nerve.

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(Translated from French)

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