Review: Le Cours de la Vie
- With his new feature film, Frédéric Sojcher wonders and questions us about the porosity between life and cinema
Frédéric Sojcher in Le Cours de la Vie [+see also:
interview: Frédéric Sojcher
film profile], his fifth feature film premiering in the International Competition of the 38th Love International Film Festival in Mons, invites us to approach life like a film, and cinema like life.
A famed and successful screenwriter, Noémie (Agnès Jaoui) is invited by the director of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’Audiovisuel in Toulouse to deliver a masterclass for his final year students. It’s an honour for the auteur, of course, as well as a responsibility, but also, and perhaps most of all, a discrete opportunity to resume an unfinished story, one she had started to write 30 years earlier.
Indeed, Vincent (Jonathan Zaccaï), the director of the school, is none other than Noémie’s first great love. She loved him madly, and it was with him that she began her other great love story, with cinema. Comrades in arms at school, their personal and professional paths then parted. For one long spring day where all hopes seem possible, where feelings are just waiting to be reborn and romances to flower, Noémie circles Vincent, who initially tries to avoid her but ultimately cannot resist the re-emergence of once buried feelings.
This very meta structure relies on a simple idea: cinema is life, and life is cinema. Reality and fiction intertwine, crossing and uncrossing each other. Noémie takes up the narration of her love story where she had left off years ago. The masterclass is an opportunity to return to this story which never properly ended and was left in suspense, perhaps like the start of an explanation. This heartbreak also echoes the troubles from the students, whose questions echo those of their elders.
Cinema here is a means to set neuroses and traumas at a distance, all the while placing them under a magnifying glass. Maybe it is a bashful way for Noémie to address Vincent. It is also a way for the students to deal with the present. While Noémie and Vincent appear hindered and awkward when they cross paths in the blinding light outside, in the real world, the darkness of the classroom — and of the cinema — offers a privileged setting for their attempt to revisit the past, and perhaps to make peace with their memories.
Le Cours de la Vie, with its classical structure (a standout is the original score by Vladimir Cosma, an homage to a certain idea of cinema) and simple setup (unity of time and place) sanctifies cinema, the school of life. The figure of the love letter is fundamental to the film, and we can therefore wonder whether this isn’t what the film itself also is — a love letter to cinema, and to its cathartic power.
(Translated from French)
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