Review: All Your Faces
- Buoyed by an impeccable cast, Jeanne Herry crafts a remarkable ensemble film, sensitively fictionalising the process of reconnection and reparation that comes with restorative justice
"We don’t suggest anything, we don’t speak on their behalf, we listen. We leave room for thought. No judgements, no diagnoses." This advice given at the end of a role-play exercise for future facilitators of restorative justice - a practice which in use in various countries (notably in France since 2014) and which is central to Jeanne Herry’s All Your Faces [+see also:
film profile] (released in French cinemas tomorrow via StudioCanal) – perfectly summarises the approach of this filmmaker, who’s brilliant at taking hold of social issues and turning them into works of fiction, resulting in an ideal blend of intelligence and emotion.
As in her highly respectable previous film, In Safe Hands [+see also:
film profile] (2018), which explored adoption, the director has a talent for unearthing fascinating subjects and bringing them to the wider public’s attention without ever betraying their essence. She moves delicately through a dense web of emotions with a very clear focus on healing and reconciliation (with others and oneself), a vital approach in these times of high psychological stress and savage social divides.
"This initiative makes it possible for perpetrators of crimes and victims to meet – Does it result in reduced sentences? – No – So what’s the point? – To talk." This is what Fanny (Suliane Brahim) and Michel (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) explain to Nassim (Dali Benssalah), who’s been in prison for ten years for "home-jacking", as they’re preparing him for dialogue sessions with three female victims (who aren’t coming face-to-face with their own attackers but with others who have committed the same type of crime): Nawell (Leïla Bekhti), who works on the checkout of a minimart which was robbed five years earlier, sixty-year-old Sabine (Miou Miou) who was dragged along by a moped when her bag was snatched, and Grégoire (Gilles Lellouche) who can’t move on from being attacked in his home with his daughter. Nassim is joined by two other perpetrators of violent robberies: Issa (Birane Ba) and Thomas (Fred Testot). Overseen by the facilitators together with two volunteer workers (Anne Benoît and Pascal Sangla), the participants sit around in a circle, taking turns to talk and releasing their emotions, which progress from an initial sense of distress and anger to the gradual realisation that these “others” are human too… Meanwhile, another facilitator called Judith (Elodie Bouchez) is overseeing a very different and thorny case revolving around Chloé (Adèle Exarchopoulos), who was raped by her brother as a child. Having learned that he’s back living in the same town as her, Chloé wants to establish a few ground rules to make sure their paths don’t ever cross, but she would also like a face-to-face meeting to be organised, which promises to be anything but easy, given the depth of her wounds...
Jeanne Herry tells these two stories with great skill, excelling in conveying nuance, giving herself time to explore her subject methodically, focusing on faces and voices, and offering each of her many characters the space they truly need. Everything rings true in this film, which is incredibly precise when it comes to revealing the emotional journeys these individuals embark upon, thanks to a very well-thought-out system of reconnection and re-establishment of links which allows us to identify with the “other”. Herry’s is a film which isn’t afraid of emotions, instead respecting their every inflection.
All Your Faces was produced by Chi-Fou-Mi Productions and Trésor Films, with worldwide sales steered by StudioCanal.
(Translated from French)
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