- Comic book author Nine Antico does a brilliant job with her first film: an inventive, realist and funny feminist work which breathes new life into a conventional genre
"As a child, life looked set to be a long beach of love and of infinite, compatible choices (...) It turned out that things wouldn’t be quite so simple as that." When one person asks: "do you love me?" and the other hears "turn out of the light", to which they answer in the affirmative, misunderstandings are clearly the order of the day, severely distorting hopes but also the content of romantic relationships until the truth eventually rears its ugly head. Such is the difference between dreams and reality, an often-cruel divide which Sophie, the heroine of the highly invigorating Playlist [+see also:
interview: Nine Antico
film profile], continually seeks to cross with touching perseverance. This first feature film directed by the comic book author and artist Nine Antico is released in French cinemas on 2 June courtesy of KMBO.
"I’d like to know what I’m going to do with my life". Twenty-eight-year-old Sophie (the brilliant Sara Forestier) is trying to find her way in Paris, from a professional point of view (she draws, but it’s too late to apply for the bigger art schools, so she makes end meet waitressing and shares a small apartment with a student) but also on a personal level (which love affair will be the right one? What are the characteristics of love? Should two people share the same tastes, the same outlook on the world? Can we feel attraction and complicity but be mistaken?). Sophie’s questions, and her hand-to-mouth existence, are highly representative of a myriad of individual trajectories which intertwine in the French capital, treading the line between youth and adulthood.
From her recruitment and subsequent tribulations as an underpaid assistant at Nomaniak - a small publisher of comic books (pompously renamed "graphic novels") - to the repeated emotional setbacks (notably involving Pierre Lottin and Andranic Manet, and including an abortion) which she takes on the chin with touching stoicism, from the many faces of the Parisian Metro (with its bursts of violence) and the city’s many playgrounds to life-saving heart-to-hearts with her friend Julia (Laetitia Dosch), and from her secret battle with bedbugs to her well-meaning yet slightly concerned parents ("I want to draw – That’s not a job"), Sophie handles her trials valiantly, always trying to keep up appearances, despite feeling close to tears.
Set within a highly traditional subgenre of French cinema, these initiatory misadventures paradoxically provide Nine Antico with an ideal ground for demonstrating the richness of her artistic personality, not to mention the full range of her original palette: sumptuous black and white shots, regular off-camera reflections offered up by a commentator which verge on philosophical, intimate moments between girls, tiny flashes of artistic daring, highly relevant music (from Les yeux pour pleurer, written by Serge Gainsbourg, to True Love Will Find You in the End… by Daniel Johnston), a keen sense of the outer limits of tragicomedy, and of the art of approaching painful subjects with plenty of humour and lightness of touch… Embarking on expertly controlled experiments, each of them embedded one within the other, the neo-filmmaker weaves together individual fragments, ultimately composing a precise portrait nuanced in all the paradoxical dimensions of the very realistic life of a modern-day, young woman. It all comes together to form a highly refreshing film which makes us smile because "we never know what awaits us, we move forwards without knowing, and that’s not such a bad thing: at least we’re always surprised".
(Translated from Italian)
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