Review: Amore mio
- Guillaume Gouix’s first feature film is a family-focused road movie exploring grief and sorority during a sun-drenched breakaway
Should love disappear with the people that we care for? It would definitely be easier, but is it not the permanence of love which makes it sublime? Such questions are explored by Amore mio, the first feature film by French actor and filmmaker Guillaume Gouix, which was presented in a world premiere at the Angoulême French-Language Film Festival and has now been screened at the Arras Film Festival.
Lola loves Raphaël, but Raphaël is dead. His funeral is today. Not only is Lola struggling to bury her love, she’s also struggling to understand why she should accept others inflicting their pain, or their painful concern, on her while her own heart is bleeding. And then there’s her son, Gaspard, whom she’d like to protect from what she sees as an act, a performance of grief. As such, in order to carry on dreaming of this love which has all but disappeared, and to fully relive their memories in the present day, she takes to the road, bringing her sister Margaux along for the ride.
This impromptu escapade is as exhilarating as it is brutally unexpected for Margaux, who’s the polar opposite to her sister. While Lola leads a bohemian life, free from conventions and seemingly sustained by love alone, Margaux buries herself in work and spends her time doing the same old things. Initially shaky, the duo pick fights with one another on the roadside and in the front seat of the car, which fast becomes an echo chamber, tentatively exploring distant memories and badly healed wounds. But with every kilometre, physical and spiritual proximity works its magic. Lola’s quest for lightness and a carefree life, as if she were trying to elude death, creates an unhoped-for breath of fresh air for Margaux, who slowly finds her own liberating stride, not least because Lola and Gaspard’s grief stirs up other grief, opening a window onto inner wounds which Margaux carries deep inside.
With his first feature film, Guillaume Gouix (to whom we already owe three shorts) is trying his hand at a coded cinematic option - the road movie - which he turns into a veritable declaration of love for his actresses: his wife Allyson Paradis, shot in all her naturalness and luminosity, and Elodie Bouchez, who proves once again - just in case we still needed her to - that she can transcend a shot with a simple smile or look. We do sometimes wonder where the story is taking us, whether it goes any further than the setting which is constructed shot after shot for its two actresses. The two sisters’ trip to the countryside often feels like a pretext to glorify these heroines, and some might be disappointed that their quest for authenticity doesn’t extend to the way they observe the world around them. It might be said that the director’s hunger to show(case) the actresses’ talent and grace sometimes slides into a style exercise, verging on a certain complaisance which might compromise the relationship developed with the characters. In fact, we might have hoped that the filmmaker’s declaration of love would extend beyond his actresses to transcend his characters and lead this wonderful spectacle into a few darker zones.
(Translated from French)
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