My Soul Healed by You: an irrational gift
by Fabien Lemercier
- François Dupeyron signs an original and striking film, brilliantly played by Grégory Gadebois in the role of a healer despite himself
From the first distorted measures of Future Is Now by Nina Hagen on the image of a roaring motorbike driving along a sunny sea front, My Soul Healed by You [+see also:
film profile] by François Dupeyron, unveiled yesterday in a world premiere in competition at the 61st San Sebastian Film Festival, is striking. This successfully made film, on the edge of a well-mastered originality, is actually all about the mind and irrationality. Freddy, the main protagonist, played with ideal density by Grégory Gadebois (César 2012 for Best Newcomer for Angèle and Tony [+see also:
film profile]), indeed possesses a healing gift through his hands, a gift that would have been transmitted to him by his mother who died 5 weeks before the start of the story. Obviously, “it is not an exact science”, as noted by Freddy’s father, a disillusioned widower (“I don’t want to work anymore, I started at the age of 14; I never kept anything for myself. Don’t do what I did. Don’t rely on others!”) played by Jean-Pierre Darroussin.
François Dupeyron sets his story in a very popular neighbourhood, a kind of French Fourth World where people live in mobile homes with a beer can in hand, while the glamour of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice is only a few kilometres away. A universe of workers (Freddy prunes trees), unemployed people, snappy divorcees and children left to their own devices, all in an atmosphere filled with a kind of social bad luck nevertheless showing a sort of solidarity common to poor communities. An environment depicted by the director with great accuracy, as he flirts with tragic-comedy, without giving in to an apology of misery.
Freddy does not want this gift promised to him by heredity. He does not want to have premonitions, hear voices, be submerged by visions, a whole cocktail of oddities (“At night, I dream that the sky is watching me and I’m scared”) that come with occasional epileptic seizures which he experiences like blackouts and from which he always returns with the feeling of having lost something. But an accident and guilt finally push him to exercise his talent and patients start to gather at the door of his mobile home with their expectations, fears and secrets. Then Freddy meets Nina, a broken woman (Céline Salette, perfect as a socialite champagne alcoholic) whom he finds irresistibly attractive but whose self-destructive nature could turn out to be stronger than his healing gift...
From this offbeat "love story" to the relationship between Freddy and his relatives (his father, teenage daughter, the neighbouring couple played by Marie Payen and Philippe Rebbot), as well as the exchanges between the healer and his desperate clients, François Dupeyron explores human solitude with great intensity, without any moralizing intentions nor biases (for or against the irrational? Truth or superstition?). The filmmaker studies with striking realism the necessity of believing in something positive that takes over the characters despite the darkness that can surround them. A subtle treatment of the mystical subject which he manages to offer thanks to the charisma of his actors, a soundtrack which stands out as a real character in the film (music signed by Vanupié, Roman Reg, the Swingsons), and Yves Angelo's exceptional work on cinematography. Despite a few defaults, My Soul Healed by You is a work of great quality which leaves us really sceptical as to the choice criteria of TV investors when we know the great difficulties faced by Dupeyron to finance his project (read the news). Let’s thus hope that this film can also heal the people in charge of pre-purchases...
(Translated from French)
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