Review: Each and Every Moment
by Kaleem Aftab
- LOCARNO 2018: Celebrated documentarian Nicolas Philibert’s new effort takes an in-depth look at the training of nurses in France
In January 2016, celebrated documentarian Nicolas Philibert was sent to the emergency room after suffering an embolism. Whilst in hospital, he decided to make good on an idea that he’d had for a number of years to make a film as a tribute to healthcare staff. His documentary Each and Every Moment [+see also:
film profile] follows nurses being trained in the Institut de la Croix Saint-Simon in Montreuil, and it’s a celebration of the hard work and the learning that goes into training the oft-underappreciated group. The movie is showing Out of Competition at the Locarno Film Festival.
Philibert splits the film into three sections, each prefaced with a line from an Yves Bonnefoy verse seen in his book On the Motion and Immobility of Douve. The first section details the theoretical training and comes under the heading “What Can One Seize But the Illusive”, starting off with the most simple of activities: prospective nurses being taught how to wash their hands properly. The thoroughness with which they have to lather their palms makes it seem like they have obsessive-compulsive disorder. The reactions of the nurses to having to learn how to use a needle to stab a patient in the buttocks is highly amusing, while other tasks include moving patients out of bed, learning how to deal with bad smells and administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In addition, Philibert shows their work in the classroom, where they learn the philosophy behind nursing.
The second section, “What Can One See But That Which Darkens”, follows some of the students as they embark upon internships, putting the theory into practice. In the real-life situations, the laughter that was evident in the opening section is almost absent as things get serious, there are a variety of different locations (one of them a garden in Paris) and situations, and now the patients have their own idea of how they should be treated. The third section, “What Can One Desire But That Which Dies, Speaks and Is Rest Asunder”, shows the students talking about their experiences on their internships and their reactions to it, and then being placed in their first jobs. These placements entail a mixture of joy and sadness.
Philibert takes a direct-cinema, observational approach to the film. There is no music on the soundtrack, and as ever when films are split into sections in this way, the different parts will seem more interesting to different viewers. The most cinematic section is the opening segment, as the hubbub of activity and different emotions observed from the various and diverse characters on screen give the film an energy and zest, while outside the classroom, the protagonists seem more aware of the camera, especially when the topics are conversations usually held in private. As an appreciation of nursing, the film is a success; as engrossing viewing, less so.
Each and Every Moment was produced by Archipel 35, France 3 Cinéma, Longride, Ciné+, France Télévisions, Les Films du Losange, Doc & Film International and Blaq Out/UniversCiné, with the support of the Île-de-France region, in partnership with the CNC and the European Union’s Creative Europe/MEDIA programme.
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