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CANNES 2021 Critics’ Week

Review: Zero Fucks Given


- CANNES 2021: Adèle Exarchopoulos dazzles as an air hostess working for a low budget airline in an original first feature film full of contrasts by Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre

Review: Zero Fucks Given
Adèle Exarchopoulos in Zero Fucks Given

"You need to put all of those emotions you have to one side, you need to be in the moment. No-one cares about your personal problems, about what you did yesterday, what you’ll do today". In their first feature film Zero Fucks Given [+see also:
interview: Emmanuel Marre and Julie Le…
film profile
, which was presented in competition at the 60th Critics’ Week – unspooling within the 74th Cannes Film Festival – the French filmmaking duo that is Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre home in on the two-sided life of a young woman who’s fully immersed in the immediacy of her job as an air hostess for a low budget airline, but who’s also concealing a deeply buried sadness, the causes of which she’ll be forced to face up to sooner or later. It’s an extremely modern portrait in terms of its paradoxes and contradictions, its uncertainties and its existentialist intensity, and it provides Adèle Exarchopoulos with a wonderful role.

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Boosting sales, respecting safety regulations, making sure you shave or ending up on report, endless rotational shifts to Milan, Milan, Mykonos, Essaouira, Warsaw, etc. ("we get to see sunshine and snow on the same day"), posting souvenir photos and selfies on Instagram, seizing the chance to lounge around at the base (in Lanzarote) in impersonal accommodation equipped with a swimming pool, where you share huge apartments with colleagues, let off steam in nightclubs and enjoy fleeting encounters ("I like people and then, two hours later: see ya"): Cassandre (Exarchopoulos) has worked for Wing for almost three years and she doesn’t dislike her nomadic lifestyle - occasional loneliness aside - although she does dream of getting a better deal in Dubai. Ultimately, she belongs to a younger generation who err on the side of fatalistic ("I don’t really believe in change. I don’t even know if I’ll be alive tomorrow"). But she does have a very personal reason for constantly seeking out light relief with no strings attached: her mother died in a car accident, and, following a demanding though successful training course to become a chief flight attendant, the young woman will have to turn the page on her forebear’s passing by returning to live with her family for a time (Mara Taquin plays her sister and Alexandre Perrier her father).

With its tests to ensure candidates can smile for 30 seconds, management of difficult passengers, heart massage, eye contact, objectivity, leadership and flexibility ("I can be blond"), Zero Fucks Given describes this profession spent in perpetual transit with almost documentarian precision. It’s not really looking to denounce anything; it offers something more akin to a clinical observation of a form of depersonalisation in which the protagonist tries to dispel and conceal her inner wounds. But if you want to start over again, you have to be willing to take a look at yourself and to try to reconcile with others. It’s an itinerary which Julie Lecoustre and Emmanuel Marre examine without moralism, judgement or even dramatic events, quite simply by slowing down the story’s pace, introducing intimacy in all its banality, and moving from a mega bright and sunny world to grey skies bordering on total obscurity. It’s an original narrative structure, which fits with the film more generally in terms of its innovative exposition and acceptation of life’s contrasts.

Zero Fucks Given is produced by Wrong Men, co-produced by Kidam, and sold worldwide by Charades.

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(Translated from French)

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